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Chromosoma. 2001 Sep;110(5):352-9.

Minichromosomal DNA replication in the macronucleus of the hypotrichous ciliate Stylonychia lemnae is independent of chromosome-internal sequences.

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Zoologisches Institut der Universität Tübingen, Abteilung Zellbiologie, Germany.


The origins of DNA replication in prokaryotes and eukaryotes are typically defined by cis-acting sequences. However, in ciliates, evidence suggests that the replication of short macronuclear minichromosomes may not require such determinants. In hypotrichous ciliates, macronuclei contain millions of gene-sized minichromosomes, which generally have a single protein-coding region, two short noncoding flanks and, on each end, a short telomere consisting of a double-stranded repeat region and a single-stranded 3' overhang. Electron microscopic studies that showed that replication of minichromosomes initiates at or near telomeres and the discovery of a primase activity synthesizing RNA primers over the whole 3' telomeric overhang in vitro suggested that minichromosome replication starts directly at telomeres. Conversely, many minichromosomes contain an AT-rich, semi-conserved, palindromic sequence motif in their subtelomeric regions and it has been proposed that this motif is involved in regulating minichromosomal replication. To analyze what sequences or structures of the minichromosomes are essential for DNA replication, we stably transfected genetically modified alpha1-tubulin-encoding minichromosomes into the hypotrichous ciliate Stylonychia lemnae. Cotransfection of mutated and control minichromosomes revealed that noncoding regions can be deleted or replaced with unrelated sequences without affecting minichromosome replication efficiency in vegetatively growing cells. Similarly, replacement of the coding region resulted in a minichromosome that was stably maintained in transfected cells at the same high copy number for many months. In contrast, alpha1-tubulin-encoding minichromosomes without telomeres were rapidly lost after transfection. Hence, DNA replication of the alpha1-tubulin-encoding minichromosome does not depend on chromosome-internal sequences but may depend on telomeres.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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