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Genetics. Jul 1987; 116(3): 487–498.
PMCID: PMC1203160

Homogenization of Tandemly Repeated Nucleotide Sequences by Distance-Dependent Nucleotide Sequence Conversion


Previous work revealed that recurrent mutations (=mutation occurring more than once) in the tandemly repeated arrays present in nontranscribed spacers (NTS) of ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) are clustered, i.e., they most frequently occur in repeats with adjacent or alternate distribution. A possible explanation is that the likelihood of heteroduplex formation, a prerequisite of gene conversion, decreases with the distance between repeats. To test this possibility, evolution of an array of 11 initially homogeneous repeats was computer simulated using three models, two assuming that the likelihood of heteroduplex formation decreases with increasing distance between the repeats and one assuming that it is constant. Patterns of mutations distribution obtained in computer simulations were compared with the distribution of mutations found in the repeated arrays in the NTS of seven rDNA clones. The patterns of mutations generated by the models assuming that the likelihood of heteroduplex formation decreases as distance between the repeats increases agreed with the patterns observed in rDNA; the patterns generated by the model assuming that the likelihood is independent of distance between repeats disagreed with the patterns observed in the rDNA clones. The topology of the heteroduplex formed between DNA in adjacent repeats predicts that the most frequently occurring conversions in the NTS repeated arrays will be shorter than the length of the repeat. The topology of the heteroduplex also predicts that if the heteroduplex leads to crossing over a circular repeat is excised. It is speculated that the circle can transpose or can be amplified via rolling circle replication and subsequently transpose. It is also shown that homogenization of the NTS repeated arrays proceeds at different rates in different species.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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