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Eur J Biochem. 1995 Apr 15;229(2):550-7.

Structure and comparative analysis of the rDNA intergenic spacer of Brassica rapa. Implications for the function and evolution of the Cruciferae spacer.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


The sequence of the intergenic spacer (IGS) of the Brassica rapa rDNA was determined and compared with those of other Cruciferae species. In the 3012-bp IGS, two segments of mostly unique sequence flank a 1.5-kb region consisting of two tandem arrays of repeats. A putative transcription initiation site (TIS) was identified by sequence comparison, 395 bp downstream from the repeat region. The intercalating segment displays unusual sequence patterns, and modelling of its topology predicts intrinsically bent DNA, with two elements of bending centered at positions -118 and -288 relative to the TIS. Comparative analysis of spacers from Cruciferae, revealed a common organization and high sequence similarity in their 5' and, particularly, 3' regions, whereas the repeat region upstream of TIS diverges rapidly. The conservation of structural elements, including the bent DNA upstream from the TIS, is discussed in light of their possible involvement in the IGS functions and structure of spacers in common ancestors. Examination of the Cruciferae spacers shows that, in addition to unequal crossover and gene conversion, insertional mutagenesis and replication slippage are molecular mechanisms significantly contributing to their evolution.

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