Ribosomal RNA genes
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary The mitochondrial genomes of wheat and rye each contain a three-member family of recombining repeat peat sequences (the “18S/5S repeat”) that encode genes for 18S and 5S rRNAs (rrn18 and rrn5) and tRNAfMet (trnfM). Here we present, for wheat and rye, the sequence and boundaries of the “common sequence unit” (CSU) that is shared between all three repeat copies in each species. The wheat CSU is 4,429 base-pairs long and contains (in addition to trnfM, rrn18 and rrn5) a putative promoter, three tRNA-like elements (“t-elements”), and part of a pseudogene (“ψatpA c”) that is homologous to chloroplast atpA, which encodes the α subunit of chloroplast F1 ATPase. The rye CSU is somewhat smaller (2,855 base pairs) but contains much the same genic and other sequence elements as its wheat counterpart, except that two of the three t-elements as well as ψatpA c are found in only one of the three downstream flanks of the 18S/5S repeat, outside the CSU boundaries. In interpreting the seuuence data in terms of the evolutionary history of the 18S/5S-repeat family of wheat and rye, we conclude that (1) the wheat-rye form of the 18S/5S repeat most likely originated between 3 and 14 million years ago, in a lineage that gave rise to wheat and rye but not to barley, oasts, rice or maize; (2) the close linkage (1-bp apart) between trnfM and rrn18 is similarly limited in its taxonomic distribution to the wheat/rye lineage; (3) the trnfM-rrn18 pair arose via a single mutation that inserted a sequence block containing trnfM immediately upstream of rrn18; and (4) the presence of a putative promoter upstream of rrn18 in all wheat and rye repeats is consistent with all three repeat copies being transcriptionally active. We discuss these conclusions in the light of the possible functional significance of recombining-repeats in plant mitochondrial genomes.
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