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Mol Biol Evol. 1995 May;12(3):481-93.

The concerted evolution of 5S ribosomal genes linked to the repeat units of other multigene families.

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Biology Department, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


We review all instances in which the nuclear 5S rRNA genes of fungi, protist, nematode, and arthropod species have been reported to be linked to the tandemly repeated units of the rDNA, trans-spliced leader, and histone multigene families. The evolution of these gene arrangements is analyzed by mapping them to independently derived phylogenies. These analyses show that 5S rRNA genes have repeatedly become linked to diverse tandemly repeated gene families and that such linkages have also been subsequently inverted or lost in some species. These variable gene linkages are probably the result of stochastic gains and losses of variant repeat units, where functional 5S rRNA had transposed, by the mechanisms which are responsible for the concerted evolution of tandemly repeated multigene families. We discuss the possible mechanisms of 5S rRNA gene transposition and suggest that the characteristics of their promoter elements, transcription, and termination signals may allow functional copies of these genes to be fortuitously transposed through an RNA intermediate. We also review the evidence which shows that the linked 5S rRNA gene copies are transcribed. We conclude that the observed patterns of 5S rRNA gene linkages to the repeat units of other tandemly repeated multigene families have likely arisen due to fortuitous recombination events and are unlikely to represent the remnants of an eubacterial-like arrangement of rDNA operons or to have been established due to selective pressures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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