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J Theor Biol. 2003 Jun 7;222(3):323-30.

Template-guided recombination for IES elimination and unscrambling of genes in stichotrichous ciliates.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Colorado, Campus, Box 347, Boulder, CO 80309-0347, USA.


The micronuclear versions of genes in stichotrichous ciliates are interrupted by multiple, short, non-coding DNA segments called internal eliminated segments, or IESs. IESs divide a gene into macronuclear destined segments, or MDSs. In some micronuclear genes MDSs are in a scrambled disorder. During development of a micronucleus into a macronucleus after cell mating the IESs are excised from micronuclear genes and the MDSs are spliced in the sequentially correct order. Pairs of short repeat sequences in the ends of MDSs undergo homologous recombination to excise IESs and splice MDSs. However, the repeat sequences are too short to guide unambiguously their own alignment in preparation for recombination. Based on experiments by others on the distantly related ciliate, Paramecium, we propose a molecular model of template-guided recombination to explain the excision of the 100,000-150,000 IESs and splicing of MDSs, including unscrambling, in the genome of stichotrichous ciliates. The model solves the problem of correct pairing of pointers, precisely identifies MDS-IES junctions, and provides for irreversible recombination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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