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Int Rev Cell Mol Biol. 2011;291:73-114. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-386035-4.00003-3.

Role of intercompartmental DNA transfer in producing genetic diversity.

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1
Lehrstuhl für Molekularbiologie der Pflanzen, Department Biologie I, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München-LMU, Planegg-Martinsried, Germany.

Abstract

In eukaryotic cells, genes are found in three compartments-the nucleus, mitochondria, and plastids-and extensive gene transfer has occurred between them. Most organellar genes in the nucleus migrated there long ago, but transfer is ongoing and ubiquitous. It now generates mostly noncoding nuclear DNA, can also disrupt gene functions, and reshape genes by adding novel exons. Plastid or nuclear sequences have also contributed to the formation of mitochondrial tRNA genes. It is now clear that organelle-to-nucleus DNA transfer involves the escape of DNA molecules from the organelles at times of stress or at certain developmental stages, and their subsequent incorporation at sites of double-stranded breaks in nuclear DNA by nonhomologous recombination. Intercompartmental DNA transfer thus appears to be an inescapable phenomenon that has had a broad impact on eukaryotic evolution, affecting DNA repair, gene and genome evolution, and redirecting proteins to different target compartments.

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