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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2003;57:419-40.

Gene organization: selection, selfishness, and serendipity.

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Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


The apparati behind the replication, transcription, and translation of prokaryotic and eukaryotic genes are quite different. Yet in both classes of organisms, genes may be organized in their respective chromosomes in similar ways by virtue of similarly acting selective forces. In addition, some gene organizations reflect biology unique to each class of organisms. Levels of organization are more complex than those of the simple operon. Multiple transcription units may be organized into larger units, local control regions may act over large chromosomal regions in eukaryotic chromosomes, and cis-acting genes may control the expression of downstream genes in all classes of organisms. All these mechanisms lead to genomes being far more organized, in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, than hitherto imagined.

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