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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1999 Jun 25;101(1-2):207-16.

Genomic instability in Schistosoma mansoni.

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  • Institute for Genetics, Genetic Parasitology and Center for Biological and Medical Research, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany. greveld@uni-duesseldorf.de


In schistosomes, the W chromosome characterizes the heterogametic female-sex (ZW) whereas males are homogametic (ZZ). In the heterochromatic region of the W chromosome, the repetitive elements W1 and W2 are located which had originally been found as female-specific sequences in Puerto Rican isolates of Schistosoma mansoni. An analysis of the strain- and sex-specific occurrence of these elements revealed that both elements can occur gender-independently in other Puerto Rican isolates and in a variety of other strains of S. mansoni. This result contradicted earlier findings and indicated the existence of polymorphic Z chromosomes. A genetic analysis of the occurrence of W1 and W2 in a series of clonal populations of Schistsoma mansoni is presented. Although clones of this parasite are regarded as genetically identical, striking inter- and even intra-clonal variations have been found by PCR and Southern-blot experiments with the DNA of individual clones and of the progeny of crossing experiments. The results do not support the hypothesis of polymorphic Z chromosomes. Instead, they strongly suggest genomic instability probably originating from unusual DNA recombination events at the meiotic and mitotic level. These findings suggest a further method of generating variability within schistosomes. rights reserved.

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