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, 13 (3), 98-104

Genome Organization, Natural Genetic Engineering and Adaptive Mutation


Genome Organization, Natural Genetic Engineering and Adaptive Mutation

J A Shapiro. Trends Genet.


Bacterial evolution is considered in the light of molecular discoveries about genome organization, biochemical mechanisms of genetic change, and cellular control networks. Prokaryotic genetic determinants are organized as modular composites of coding sequences and protein-factor binding sites joined together during evolution. Studies of genetic change have revealed the existence of biochemical functions capable of restructuring the bacterial genome at various levels and joining together different sequence elements. These natural genetic engineering systems can be subject to regulation by signal transduction networks conveying information about the extracellular and intracellular environments. Mu-mediated araB-lacZ coding sequence fusions provide one example of adaptive mutation (increased formation of useful mutations under selection) and illustrate how physiological regulation can modulate the activity of a natural genetic engineering system under specific conditions.

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