1. Carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase (EC catalyses the synthesis of carbamoyl phosphate, the immediate precursor of arginine and pyrimidine biosynthesis, and is highly conserved throughout evolution. The large subunit of all carbamoyl-phosphate synthetases sequenced to date comprises two highly homologous halves, the product of a proposed ancestral gene duplication. The sequences of the enzymes of Escherichia coli, Drosophila melanogaster, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, rat and Syrian hamster all have duplications, suggesting that this event occurred in the progenote predating the separation of the major phylae. Until now, only limited data on carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase were available for the primitive eukaryote Dictyostelium discoideum and for the Archaea Methanosarcina barkeri MS. The DNA sequence of the D. discoideum carbamoylphosphate gene and additional sequence for the carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase gene of M. barkeri MS have been determined, and a duplicated structure for both is clearly demonstrated.

2. Genes with ancient duplications provide unique information on their evolution. A study of the intron/exon organization of the rat carbamoylphosphate synthetase I gene and the carbamoylphosphate synthetase hamster II gene in the CAD multi-gene complex shows that at least some of their introns are very old. Evidence is provided that some introns must have been present in the ancestral precursor before its duplication.

3. The human carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase I gene has been isolated and characterized. A human liver cDNA library was constructed and probed for carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase I. A human genomic DNA cosmid library was also probed for the carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase I gene. The cDNA sequence of the human carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase I gene has been determined, and work has been initiated to confirm that at least part of this gene is contained within two cosmids spanning 46 kb. This will enable future studies to be made on mutations in this gene in the rare autosomal recessive deficiency of carbamoyl-phosphate synthetase I.

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