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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Mar 14, 1995; 92(6): 1836–1840.

Transposon-induced promoter scrambling: a mechanism for the evolution of new alleles.


We have studied a germinal revertant of the Mutator (Mu3)-induced mutation (Adh1-3F1124) of the maize alcohol dehydrogenase 1 gene (adh1). Transposon Mu3 was inserted at the TATA box of the promoter. The excision of Mu3 caused a complex, multibreakpoint DNA rearrangement with deletion, inverted duplication, and inversions affecting 430 nucleotides in the promoter region. These changes led to an unusual pattern of adh1 gene expression: increased levels of enzyme activity in one organ, decreased levels in another, and almost unchanged levels in a third organ. The evolutionary impact of transposon-induced promoter scrambling on generation of allelic diversity is discussed. We present a fragmentation model to help explain how transposon excision could induce multiple breakpoint aberrations without involving a homologous chromosome.

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