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Mol Cell Biol. 1985 Jun;5(6):1260-7.

Gene amplification in Tetrahymena thermophila: formation of extrachromosomal palindromic genes coding for rRNA.


Tetrahymena thermophila contains in the macronucleus multiple copies of extrachromosomal palindromic genes coding for rRNA (rDNA) which are generated from a single chromosomal copy during development. In this study we isolated the chromosomal copy of rDNA and determined the structure and developmental fate of the sequence surrounding its 5' junction. The result indicates that specific chromosomal breakage occurs at or near the 5' junction of rDNA during development. The breakage event is associated with DNA elimination and telomeric sequence addition. Similar results were also found previously for the 3' junction of this gene. These results could explain how the extrachromosomal rDNA is first generated. Near both junctions of the chromosomal rDNA, a pair of 20-nucleotide repeats was found. These sequences might serve as signals for site-specific breakage. In addition, we found a pair of perfect inverted repeats at the 5' junction of this gene. The repeats are 42 nucleotides long and are separated by 28 nucleotides. The existence of this structure provides a simple explanation for the formation of the palindromic rDNA.

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