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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 1993 Dec;3(6):902-10.

Evolution of genetic redundancy for advanced players.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, UK.


An ever expanding database on the sequence organization and repetition of genic and non-genic components of nuclear and organelle genomes reveals that the vast majority of sequences are subject to one or other mechanism of DNA turnover (gene conversion, unequal crossing over, slippage, retrotransposition, transposition and others). Detailed studies, using novel methods of experimental detection and analytical procedures, show that such mechanisms can operate one on top of another and that wide variations in their unit lengths, biases, polarities and rates create bizarre and complex patterns of genetic redundancy. The ability of these mechanisms to operate both within and between chromosomes implies that realistic models of the evolutionary dynamics of redundancy, and of the potential interaction with natural selection in a sexual species, need to consider the diffusion of variant repeats across multiple chromosome lineages, in a population context. Recently, important advances in both experimental and analytical approaches have been made along these lines. There is increasing awareness that genetic redundancy and turnover induces a molecular co-evolution between functionally interacting genetic systems in order to maintain essential functions.

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