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Genetica. 2011 Aug;139(8):999-1008. doi: 10.1007/s10709-011-9601-1. Epub 2011 Aug 12.

Structure and population dynamics of the major satellite DNA in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Bijenička 54, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia.


In the beetle genus Tribolium, satellite DNAs comprise a significant amount of pericentromeric heterochromatin and are characterized by rapid turnover resulting in species specific profiles. In the present work we characterize the major pericentromeric satellite DNA TCAST of the beetle T. castaneum and analyse its population dynamics. Using direct sequencing of genomic PCR products we show that the TCAST satellite exists in the form of two related subfamilies: Tcast1a and Tcast1b that make up 20 and 15% of the genome, respectively. Tcast1a and Tcast1b have consensus sequences of 377 and 362 bp respectively, share an average similarity of 79% and are characterized by a divergent, subfamily specific region of approximately 100 bp. The two subfamilies are prevalently organized in the interspersed form, although a portion exists in the form of homogenous tandem arrays composed of only Tcast1a or Tcast1b. The pattern of restriction enzyme digestion indicates that Tcast1a and Tcast1b are organized in composite higher order repeats. Comparison of sequence variability of Tcast1a and Tcast1b among ten strains reveals a difference in the frequency of particular mutations present at some positions. However, no difference in the organization and in the amount of subfamilies was detected among strains. The results show that direct genomic sequencing can be a useful method for the detection of population specific features of satellite DNA. In the case of TCAST satellite DNA, changes in the mutational profiles seem to represent the first step in the genesis of a population specific satellite profile.

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