Key words DNA topology
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The generation of amphimeric mitochondrial petite genomes of yeast can be explained by a process that links together two illegitimate recombination events, each involving a pair of short inverted repeats. Following “diagonal” double-strand breaks and inter-strand ligations at both possible stem-and-loop structures, a subgenomic single-stranded DNA circle can be excised. This circle comprises four building blocks organized in the so-called datA arrangement where d and t correspond, respectively, to the segments looped out by the upstream and the downstream pair of inverted repeats, a to the sequence separating the two loops, and A to the inverted duplication of segment a. Depending on the different possible “diagonal” recombinations at the inverted repeats, any of four isomeric circles can be excised, representing in its double-stranded form the nascent basic unit of an amphimeric mitochondrial petite genome of yeast. These isomeric basic units differ in the relative orientation of their sequences d and t (called D and T, respectively, when inverted), and are designated datA, DatA, daTA, and DaTA. Any one of these may be replicated to form the previously described regularly arrayed multimeric flip-flop genomes. Our new understanding of the amphimeric mitochondrial petite genomes of yeast emphasizes the role that topological features of DNA can play in mitochondrial genome dynamics. It also permits the re-interpretation of various observations reported in the literature. Some of them, including EtBr-mutagenesis in yeast, are discussed.
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