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Chapter 31 : Germ Line DNA Parasites That Have Converged on an Altruistic Somatic Excision Strategy

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Germ Line DNA Parasites That Have Converged on an Altruistic Somatic Excision Strategy, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

This chapter discusses certain DNA elements that parasitize organisms that have evolved a germ line-soma developmental strategy. By way of introducing the main ideas of this essay, the author briefly summarizes the strategy of the somatic excision element (SEE) called skin that interrupts the sigma K gene of many endospore-forming bacteria, discovered first in . Finally, the author draws analogies to introns and inteins. Division-of-labor germ line-soma strategies, analogous to that employed by metazoans, have evolved independently in numerous other life forms; that is, these life forms have convergently evolved germ line-soma strategies. An elaborate germ line-soma developmental program is employed by ciliated protozoa with the germ line carried in the transcriptionally silent micronucleus, coresident in the cell with the somatic or macronucleus, its DNA pure genes, and it a specialized organelle for expressing them. Both spliceosomal introns and inteins appear to have been inserted into genes as mobile elements, the former derived from transposed group II self-splicing introns and the latter as representatives of mobile homing endonuclease genes. Both introns and inteins are DNA segments interrupting genes. Given the widening horizon that genomic sequencing affords and the large number of unexplored germ line-soma systems, the author imagines that many may have become infested with SEEs.

Citation: Herrick G. 2011. Germ Line DNA Parasites That Have Converged on an Altruistic Somatic Excision Strategy, p 325-332. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch31

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Image of FIGURE 1
FIGURE 1

Terminal differentiation in and in (A) sporulation, induced by starvation, programmed by a cascade of RNA polymerase sigma factors. (From Kroos and Maddock [ ] with permission. For reviews, see references and .) (B) differentiation of heterocysts (black arrow-heads) scattered along filament when starved for organic nitrogen (“N ”). (From Golden and Yoon [ ] with permission from Elsevier.)

Citation: Herrick G. 2011. Germ Line DNA Parasites That Have Converged on an Altruistic Somatic Excision Strategy, p 325-332. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch31
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Image of FIGURE 2
FIGURE 2

Life cycle of a generalized ciliate. (Left) Reproduction, or clonal proliferation of diploid individuals, each with a diploid (2N) micro-nucleus (MIC) and a division-capable macronucleus (MAC). (Top and Right) Sexual conjugation of two genetically different vegetative cells. In each conjugant, meiosis of the diploid (2N) micronucleus generates four haploid (1N) products, two of which are eliminated along with the parental macronucleus. Gametic nuclei are exchanged (right center) and joined to form the zygotic nucleus. The conjugants separate, becoming exconjugants. The zygotic nucleus duplicates mitotically to generate a new MIC and a precursor to a new macronucleus. (Bottom) Exconjugant development, with the new macronucleus undergoing DNA processing by amplification, sequence elimination, and fragmentation. As the exconjugant matures, its macronucleus becomes heterochromatic and silent, and the new macronucleus supplies nearly all gene expression, informing the clonal expansion of the exconjugant, and at least much of conjugation. Note that the macronucleus is replaced each turn of the cycle and serves as a soma analog, supporting the perpetuation of the micronuclear genes, a germ line analog. (Adapted from reference with permission from Elsevier.)

Citation: Herrick G. 2011. Germ Line DNA Parasites That Have Converged on an Altruistic Somatic Excision Strategy, p 325-332. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch31
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Image of FIGURE 3
FIGURE 3

Transposons, introns, inteins, and somatic excision elements. The colinear extents of the information content of DNA, RNA, and protein are represented in the vertical stacks of lines. A somatic excision element and two analogs, an intein, and an intron are represented by wide black interruptions, compared to a conventional transposon.

Citation: Herrick G. 2011. Germ Line DNA Parasites That Have Converged on an Altruistic Somatic Excision Strategy, p 325-332. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch31
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