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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Oct 7;105(40):15470-4. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0805694105. Epub 2008 Oct 1.

Sustained retrotransposition is mediated by nucleotide deletions and interelement recombinations.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.


The term "C-value paradox" was coined by C. A. Thomas, Jr. in 1971 [Thomas CA (1971) Ann Rev Genetics 5:237-256] to describe the initially puzzling lack of correlation between an organism's genome size and its morphological complexity. Polyploidy and the expansion of repetitive DNA, primarily transposable elements, are two mechanisms that have since been found to account for this differential. While the inactivation of retrotransposons by methylation and their removal from the genome by illegitimate recombination have been well documented, the cause of the apparently periodic bursts of retrotranposon expansion is as yet unknown. We show that the expansion of the CRM1 retrotransposon subfamily in the ancient allotetraploid crop plant corn is linked to the repeated formation of novel recombinant elements derived from two parental retrotransposon genotypes, which may have been brought together during the hybridization of two sympatric species that make up the present day corn genome, thus revealing a unique mechanism linking polyploidy and retrotransposition.

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