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PLoS Biol. 2014 May 20;12(5):e1001868. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001868. eCollection 2014 May.

Genome-wide stochastic adaptive DNA amplification at direct and inverted DNA repeats in the parasite Leishmania.

Author information

1
Centre de Recherche en Infectiologie, Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec, Québec, Canada.

Abstract

Gene amplification of specific loci has been described in all kingdoms of life. In the protozoan parasite Leishmania, the product of amplification is usually part of extrachromosomal circular or linear amplicons that are formed at the level of direct or inverted repeated sequences. A bioinformatics screen revealed that repeated sequences are widely distributed in the Leishmania genome and the repeats are chromosome-specific, conserved among species, and generally present in low copy number. Using sensitive PCR assays, we provide evidence that the Leishmania genome is continuously being rearranged at the level of these repeated sequences, which serve as a functional platform for constitutive and stochastic amplification (and deletion) of genomic segments in the population. This process is adaptive as the copy number of advantageous extrachromosomal circular or linear elements increases upon selective pressure and is reversible when selection is removed. We also provide mechanistic insights on the formation of circular and linear amplicons through RAD51 recombinase-dependent and -independent mechanisms, respectively. The whole genome of Leishmania is thus stochastically rearranged at the level of repeated sequences, and the selection of parasite subpopulations with changes in the copy number of specific loci is used as a strategy to respond to a changing environment.

PMID:
24844805
PMCID:
PMC4028189
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pbio.1001868
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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