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PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e29477. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029477. Epub 2011 Dec 22.

Circular DNA intermediate in the duplication of Nile tilapia vasa genes.

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Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA.


vasa is a highly conserved RNA helicase involved in animal germ cell development. Among vertebrate species, it is typically present as a single copy per genome. Here we report the isolation and sequencing of BAC clones for Nile tilapia vasa genes. Contrary to a previous report that Nile tilapia have a single copy of the vasa gene, we find evidence for at least three vasa gene loci. The vasa gene locus was duplicated from the original site and integrated into two distant novel sites. For one of these insertions we find evidence that the duplication was mediated by a circular DNA intermediate. This mechanism of gene duplication may explain the origin of isolated gene duplicates during the evolution of fish genomes. These data provide a foundation for studying the role of multiple vasa genes in the development of tilapia gonads, and will contribute to investigations of the molecular mechanisms of sex determination and evolution in cichlid fishes.

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