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Mol Plant. 2008 Sep;1(5):839-50. doi: 10.1093/mp/ssn050. Epub 2008 Aug 22.

The subtelomere of Oryza sativa chromosome 3 short arm as a hot bed of new gene origination in rice.

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Arizona Genomics Institute, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


Despite general observations of non-random genomic distribution of new genes, it is unclear whether or not new genes preferentially occur in certain genomic regions driven by related molecular mechanisms. Using 1.5 Mb of genomic sequences from short arms of chromosome 3 of Oryza glaberrima and O. punctata, we conducted a comparative genomic analysis with the reference O. sativa ssp. japonica genome. We identified a 60-kb segment located in the middle of the subtelomeric region of chromosome 3, which is unique to the species O. sativa. The region contained gene duplicates that occurred in Asian cultivated rice species that diverged from the ancestor of Asian and African cultivated rice one million years ago (MYA). For the 12 genes and one complete retrotransposon identified in this segment in O. sativa ssp. japonica, we searched for their parental genes. The high similarity between duplicated paralogs further supports the recent origination of these genes. We found that this segment was recently generated through multiple independent gene recombination and transposon insertion events. Among the 12 genes, we found that five had chimeric gene structures derived from multiple parental genes. Nine out of the 12 new genes seem to be functional, as suggested by Ka/Ks analysis and the presence of cDNA and/or MPSS data. Furthermore, for the eight transcribed genes, at least two genes could be classified as defense or stress response-related genes. Given these findings, and the fact that subtelomeres are associated with high rates of recombination and transcription, it is likely that subtelomeres may facilitate gene recombination and transposon insertions and serve as hot spots for new gene origination in rice genomes.

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