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Mob DNA. 2010 Jan 25;1(1):4. doi: 10.1186/1759-8753-1-4.

Mobile DNA and evolution in the 21st century.

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1
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Chicago, Gordon Center for Integrative Science W123B, 929 E 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. jsha@uchicago.edu.

Abstract

Scientific history has had a profound effect on the theories of evolution. At the beginning of the 21st century, molecular cell biology has revealed a dense structure of information-processing networks that use the genome as an interactive read-write (RW) memory system rather than an organism blueprint. Genome sequencing has documented the importance of mobile DNA activities and major genome restructuring events at key junctures in evolution: exon shuffling, changes in cis-regulatory sites, horizontal transfer, cell fusions and whole genome doublings (WGDs). The natural genetic engineering functions that mediate genome restructuring are activated by multiple stimuli, in particular by events similar to those found in the DNA record: microbial infection and interspecific hybridization leading to the formation of allotetraploids. These molecular genetic discoveries, plus a consideration of how mobile DNA rearrangements increase the efficiency of generating functional genomic novelties, make it possible to formulate a 21st century view of interactive evolutionary processes. This view integrates contemporary knowledge of the molecular basis of genetic change, major genome events in evolution, and stimuli that activate DNA restructuring with classical cytogenetic understanding about the role of hybridization in species diversification.

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