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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Jul 22;100(15):9055-60. Epub 2003 Jul 9.

Gene expression of a gene family in maize based on noncollinear haplotypes.

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  • 1Waksman Institute, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 190 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8020.


Genomic regions of nearly every species diverged into different haplotypes, mostly based on point mutations, small deletions, and insertions that do not affect the collinearity of genes within a species. However, the same genomic interval containing the z1C gene cluster of two inbred lines of Zea mays significantly lost their gene collinearity and also differed in the regulation of each remaining gene set. Furthermore, when inbreds were reciprocally crossed, hybrids exhibited an unexpected shift of expression patterns so that "overdominance" instead of "dominance complementation" of allelic and nonallelic gene expression occurred. The same interval also differed in length (360 vs. 263 kb). Segmental rearrangements led to sequence changes, which were further enhanced by the insertion of different transposable elements. Changes in gene order affected not only z1C genes but also three unrelated genes. However, the orthologous interval between two subspecies of rice (not rice cultivars) was conserved in length and gene order, whereas changes between two maize inbreds were as drastic as changes between maize and sorghum. Given that chromosomes could conceivably consist of intervals of haplotypes that are highly diverged, one could envision endless breeding opportunities because of their linear arrangement along a chromosome and their expression potential in hybrid combinations ("binary" systems). The implication of such a hypothesis for heterosis is discussed.

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