VH or Vλ sequences, but the paucity of VH and Vλ diversity is compensated by a high rate of interlocus somatic gene conversion, as mentioned earlier. Some authors (10, 73) suggested that these closely related sequences are subject to germ-line as well as somatic gene conversion. This may well be the case, but chicken and rabbit Ig genes are clearly exceptional and do not seem to follow the general pattern of Ig gene evolution in vertebrates.

The genome of higher organisms contains a large number of multigene families, some of which have evolved to produce a large quantity of the same gene product and others of which have evolved to produce a diverse array of proteins. If our conclusion is correct, the former group of gene families would be subject to concerted evolution and the latter to birth-and-death evolution. We hope that a detailed study will be conducted on this subject for many multigene families and the general pattern of evolution of multigene families will be clarified in the near future.

We thank Kei Takahashi for his help in the preparation of the manuscript and Austin Hughes, Jan Klein, Sudhir Kumar, and George Zhang for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This work was supported by National. Institutes of Health Grant GM20293 and National Science Foundation Grant DEB-9520832 to M.N.

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