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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2002;56:489-520. Epub 2002 Jan 30.

Genome remodeling in ciliated protozoa.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.


The germline genomes of ciliated protozoa are dynamic structures, undergoing massive DNA rearrangement during the formation of a functional macronucleus. Macronuclear development involves chromosome fragmentation coupled with de novo telomere synthesis, numerous DNA splicing events that remove internal segments of DNA, and, in some ciliates, the reordering of scrambled gene segments. Despite the fact that all ciliates share similar forms of DNA rearrangement, there appears to be great diversity in both the nature of the rearranged DNA and the molecular mechanisms involved. Epigenetic effects on rearrangement have also been observed, and recent work suggests that chromatin differentiation plays a role in specifying DNA segments either for rearrangement or for elimination.

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