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Plant Cell. 2005 Feb;17(2):343-60. Epub 2005 Jan 19.

Evolution of DNA sequence nonhomologies among maize inbreds.

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  • 1DuPont Crop Genetics Research, Wilmington, Delaware 19880, USA. stephan.brunner@cgr.dupont.com


Allelic chromosomal regions totaling more than 2.8 Mb and located on maize (Zea mays) chromosomes 1L, 2S, 7L, and 9S have been sequenced and compared over distances of 100 to 350 kb between the two maize inbred lines Mo17 and B73. The alleles contain extended regions of nonhomology. On average, more than 50% of the compared sequence is noncolinear, mainly because of the insertion of large numbers of long terminal repeat (LTR)-retrotransposons. Only 27 LTR-retroelements are shared between alleles, whereas 62 are allele specific. The insertion of LTR-retrotransposons into the maize genome is statistically more recent for nonshared than shared ones. Most surprisingly, more than one-third of the genes (27/72) are absent in one of the inbreds at the loci examined. Such nonshared genes usually appear to be truncated and form clusters in which they are oriented in the same direction. However, the nonshared genome segments are gene-poor, relative to regions shared by both inbreds, with up to 12-fold difference in gene density. By contrast, miniature inverted terminal repeats (MITEs) occur at a similar frequency in the shared and nonshared fractions. Many times, MITES are present in an identical position in both LTRs of a retroelement, indicating that their insertion occurred before the replication of the retroelement in question. Maize ESTs and/or maize massively parallel signature sequencing tags were identified for the majority of the nonshared genes or homologs of them. In contrast with shared genes, which are usually conserved in gene order and location relative to rice (Oryza sativa), nonshared genes violate the maize colinearity with rice. Based on this, insertion by a yet unknown mechanism, rather than deletion events, seems to be the origin of the nonshared genes. The intergenic space between conserved genes is enlarged up to sixfold in maize compared with rice. Frequently, retroelement insertions create a different sequence environment adjacent to conserved genes.

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