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Science. 1995 Nov 10;270(5238):994-7.

Transition in specification of embryonic metazoan DNA replication origins.

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Institut Jacques Monod, Paris, France.


In early Xenopus embryos, in which ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) are not transcribed, rDNA replication initiates and terminates at 9- to 12-kilobase pair intervals, with no detectable dependence on specific DNA sequences. Resumption of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) synthesis at late blastula and early gastrula is accompanied by a specific repression of replication initiation within transcription units; the frequency of initiation within intergenic spacers remains as high as in early blastula. These results demonstrate that for rRNA genes, circumscribed zones of replication initiation emerge in intergenic DNA during the time in metazoan development when the chromatin is remodeled to allow gene transcription.

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