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Annu Rev Genet. 1997;31:91-111.

Gene amplification and genomic plasticity in prokaryotes.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, National University of Mexico, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.


Gene amplification is a common feature of the genome of prokaryotic organisms. In this review, we analyze different instances of gene amplification in a variety of prokaryotes, including their mechanisms of generation and biological role. Growing evidence supports the concept that gene amplification be considered not as a mutation but rather as a dynamic genomic state related to the adaptation of bacterial populations to changing environmental conditions or biological interactions. In this context, the potentially amplifiable DNA regions impose a defined dynamic structure on the genome. If such structure has indeed been selected during evolution, it is a particularly challenging hypothesis.

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