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FEBS Lett. 1999 Apr 9;448(2-3):235-8.

Fate of unstable Bacillus subtilis subgenome: re-integration and amplification in the main genome.

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Mitsubishi Kasei Institute of Life Sciences, Tokyo, Japan.


The plastic Bacillus subtilis genome was dissected into two physically separate genomes, the 3.9 Mb main genome and the 0.3 Mb subgenome. DNA replication of the main genome was initiated from the normal replication origin (oriC) and that of the subgenome was from a 7.2 kb oriN-containing fragment artificially inserted. When the 7.2 kb fragment was shortened to a 1.5 kb fragment that contains oriN but lacks the segregational function, the subgenome became unstable and was rapidly lost from the cell, producing inviable cells due to the loss of essential genes carried by the subgenome. Stable survivors were isolated in which the subgenome had re-integrated and multiplied in the main genome. These results suggest that a reduced genetic stability of the subgenome induces size variation of the B. subtilis genome.

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