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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 10;103(2):383-8. Epub 2005 Dec 28.

Recombination, rearrangement, reshuffling, and divergence in a centromeric region of rice.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


Centromeres have many unusual biological properties, including kinetochore attachment and severe repression of local meiotic recombination. These properties are partly an outcome, partly a cause, of unusual DNA structure in the centromeric region. Although several plant and animal genomes have been sequenced, most centromere sequences have not been completed or analyzed in depth. To shed light on the unique organization, variability, and evolution of centromeric DNA, detailed analysis of a 1.97-Mb sequence that includes centromere 8 (CEN8) of japonica rice was undertaken. Thirty-three long-terminal repeat (LTR)-retrotransposon families (including 11 previously unknown) were identified in the CEN8 region, totaling 245 elements and fragments that account for 67% of the region. The ratio of solo LTRs to intact elements in the CEN8 region is approximately 0.9:1, compared with approximately 2.2:1 in noncentromeric regions of rice. However, the ratio of solo LTRs to intact elements in the core of the CEN8 region ( approximately 2.5:1) is higher than in any other region investigated in rice, suggesting a hotspot for unequal recombination. Comparison of the CEN8 region of japonica and its orthologous segments from indica rice indicated that approximately 15% of the intact retrotransposons and solo LTRs were inserted into CEN8 after the divergence of japonica and indica from a common ancestor, compared with approximately 50% for previously studied euchromatic regions. Frequent DNA rearrangements were observed in the CEN8 region, including a 212-kb subregion that was found to be composed of three rearranged tandem repeats. Phylogenetic analysis also revealed recent segmental duplication and extensive rearrangement and reshuffling of the CentO satellite repeats.

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