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EMBO Rep. 2005 Nov;6(11):1035-9.

Functional elements residing within satellite DNAs.

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  • Department of Molecular Biology, Ruder Boskovic Institute, Bijenicka 54, PO Box 180, HR-10002 Zagreb, Croatia. ugarkov@irb.hr


Satellite DNAs represent a fast-evolving portion of the eukaryotic genome whose evolution is proposed to be driven by the stochastic process of molecular drive. Recent results indicate that satellite DNAs are subject to certain structural constraints, which are probably related to their interaction with proteins involved in the establishment of specific chromatin structures. The evolutionary persistence and high sequence conservation of some satellites, as well as the presence of stage- or tissue-specific, differentially expressed transcripts in several species, are consistent with the hypothesis that satellite DNA could have a regulatory role in eukaryotic organisms. Although the role of most transcripts is not known, some act as precursors of small interfering RNAs, which are now recognized as having an important role in chromatin modulation and the control of gene expression. Furthermore, some transcripts are involved in the cellular response to stress.

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