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Cell. 1984 Feb;36(2):433-40.

DNA elimination in Tetrahymena: a developmental process involving extensive breakage and rejoining of DNA at defined sites.


Elimination of specific DNA sequences occurs during macronuclear development in the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila. Recombinant DNA clones containing a segment of micronuclear (germinal) DNA involved in elimination and the corresponding segment of macronuclear (somatic) DNA produced after elimination were isolated. Detailed comparisons of the cloned DNAs, as well as the genomic DNAs, by hybridization indicated that DNA elimination is accompanied by specific DNA rearrangements. In this 9.5 kb region three defined DNA segments are deleted and the remaining sequences are linked together as one contiguous piece in the macronucleus. Specific DNA rearrangement of this kind occurs widely in the genome. Analysis of 20 randomly selected DNA clones suggests that there are more than 5000 such rearrangement sites in the genome. Thus specific breakage and rejoining of DNA occurs extensively during development, and might play an essential role in nuclear differentiation.

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