Function of Repetitive DNA

The function of repetitive DNA was illuminated by several lines of genome research during the 1980s. Strong evidence was presented showing that repetitive DNA is an evolutionary device to catalyze formation of new genes by suppressing gene conversion. This evidence has been gathered here so that a new generation of genomic scientists may examine it in the fresh light of reason.

Gene conversion links similar DNA sequences together. It can operate on genes within a multigene family or it can operate interchromosomally on gene homologues. Similar DNA sequences are the substates for gene conversion. Gene conversion is the cohesive force allowing species to exist. The gene pool of a species consists of DNA sequences in a network linked by gene conversion events. Repetitive sequences play the role of uncoupling this network, thereby allowing new genes to evolve. The shorter Alu or SINE repetitive DNA are specialized for uncoupling intrachromosomal gene conversion while the longer LINE repetitive DNA are specialized for uncoupling interchromosomal gene conversion.

For further reading on this subject please see this extract PDF of extract from Biochemistry25,5028(1986)or the following list of articles:

  1. Biochemistry 25, 5028-5035 (1986)
  2. PNAS 80,5970-5974 (1983)
  3. Nucleic Acids Res. 12, 1641-1655 (1984)
  4. Biochimie 65, 85-93 (1983)

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May 23, 2005