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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Jul-Aug;42(4):271-83.

Adaptive amplification.

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Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Modern techniques are revealing that repetition of segments of the genome, called amplification or gene amplification, is very common. Amplification is found in all domains of life, and occurs under conditions where enhanced expression of the amplified genes is advantageous. Amplification extends the range of gene expression beyond that which is achieved by control systems. It also is reversible because it is unstable, breaking down by homologous recombination. Amplification is believed to be the driving force in the clustering of related functions, in that it allows them to be amplified together. Amplification provides the extra copies of genes that allow evolution of functions to occur while retaining the original function. Amplification can be induced in response to cellular stressors. In many cases, it has been shown that the genomic regions that are amplified include those genes that are appropriate to upregulate for a specific stressor. There is some evidence that amplification occurs as part of a broad, general stress response, suggesting that organisms have the capacity to induce structural changes in the genome. This then allows adaptation to the stressful conditions. The mechanisms by which amplification arises are now being studied at the molecular level, but much is still unknown about the mechanisms in all organisms. Recent advances in our understanding of amplification in bacteria suggests new interpretations of events leading to human copy number variation, as well as evolution in general.

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