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Cell. 1982 Jun;29(2):537-50.

Chloroplast DNA rearrangements are more frequent when a large inverted repeat sequence is lost.


We examined the arrangement of sequences common to seven angiosperm chloroplast genomes. The chloroplast DNAs of spinach, petunia and cucumber are essentially colinear. They share with the corn chloroplast genome a large inversion of approximately 50 kb relative to the genomes of three legumes--mung bean, pea and broad bean. There is one additional rearrangement, a second, smaller inversion within the 50 kb inversion, which is specific to the corn genome. These two changes are the only detectable rearrangements that have occurred during the evolution of the species examined (corn, spinach, petunia, cucumber and mung bean) whose chloroplast genomes contain a large inverted repeat sequence of 22-25 kb. In contrast, we find extensive sequence rearrangements in comparing the pea and broad bean genomes, both of which have deleted one entire segment of the inverted repeat, and also in comparing each of these to the mung bean genome. Thus there is a relatively stable arrangement of sequences in those genomes with the inverted repeat and a much more dynamic arrangement in those that have lost it. We discuss several explanations for this correlation, including the possibility that the inverted repeat may play a direct role in maintaining a conserved arrangement of chloroplast DNA sequences.

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