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EMBO J. 1984 Dec 20;3(13):3109-15.

Chromosomes of kinetoplastida.


We have compared chromosome-sized DNA molecules (molecular karyotypes) of five genera (nine species) of kinetoplastida after cell lysis and deproteinization of DNA in agarose blocks and size fractionation of the intact DNA molecules by pulsed field gradient (PFG) gel electrophoresis. With the possible exception of Trypanosoma vivax and Crithidia fasciculata, all species have at least 20 chromosomes. There are large differences between species in molecular karyotype and in the chromosomal distribution of the genes for alpha- and beta-tubulin, rRNA and the common mini-exon sequence of kinetoplastid mRNAs. In all cases, the rRNA genes are in DNA that is larger than 500 kb. Whereas T. brucei has approximately 100 mini-chromosomes of 50-150 kb, only few are found in T. equiperdum; T. vivax has no DNA smaller than 2000 kb. As all three species exhibit antigenic variation, small chromosomes with telomeric variant surface glycoprotein genes cannot be vital to the mechanism of antigenic variation. The apparent plasticity of kinetoplastid genome composition makes PFG gel electrophoresis a potentially useful tool for taxonomic studies.

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