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Mol Biol Evol. 1999 Mar;16(3):332-46.

Evolutionary instability of operon structures disclosed by sequence comparisons of complete microbial genomes.

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Research and Education Center for Genetic Information, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Japan.


Gene orders have been shown to be generally unstable by comprehensive analyses in several complete genomes. In this study, we examined instability of genome structures within operons, where functionally related genes are clustered. We compared gene orders of known operons obtained from Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis with corresponding those of operons in 11 complete genome sequences. We found that in many cases, gene orders within operons could be shuffled frequently during evolution, although several operon structures, such as ribosomal protein operons, were well conserved. This suggests that shuffling of a genome structure is virtually neutral in long-term evolution. Moreover, degrees of instability of the operon structures depended on the genomes examined. Variation in degrees of instability of the genome structures was likely to be related to differences in amounts of insertion sequences. Effects on transcription regulation are also discussed in association with operon destruction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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