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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2005 Dec;15(6):621-7. Epub 2005 Oct 10.

Transposable elements, gene creation and genome rearrangement in flowering plants.

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Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 40602-7223, USA.


Plant genome structure is largely derived from the differing specificities, abundances and activities of transposable elements. Recent studies indicate that both the amplification and the removal of transposons are rapid processes in plants, accounting for the general lack of intergenic homology between species that last shared a common ancestor more than 10 million years ago. Two newly discovered transposon varieties, Helitrons and Pack-MULEs, acquire and fuse fragments of plant genes, creating the raw material for the evolution of new genes and new genetic functions. Many of these recently assembled, chimeric gene-candidates are expressed, suggesting that some might escape epigenetic silencing and mutational decay, but a proven case of gene creation by any transposable element activity in plants remains to be demonstrated.

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