Biological significance of minisatellites

Singh, Lalji (1995) Biological significance of minisatellites Electrophoresis, 16 (1). pp. 1586-1595. ISSN 0173-0835

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Minisatellites are tandemly repeated, highly variable DNA sequences found in most higher eukaryotes. These contain a core sequence resembling the chi sequence of Escherichia coli, which is a binding site for recombination proteins. Based on this, a generalized function of minisatellites to provide binding sites for recombination proteins in eukaryotes has also been suggested. However, recent discoveries of trinucleotide repeat expansion mutations associated with at least four human genetic diseases, several short repeats acting as motifs for binding of various transcription factors, and several minisatellite-binding nuclear proteins, which are expressed in specific tissues and bind to specific sequences, strongly suggest that different families of minisatellites may have different functions. A banded krait minor (Bkm) satellite DNA, consisting of highly conserved GATA repeats, which is arranged in a sex-specific manner, is hypervariable. We have found a sex- and tissue-specific factor designated as Bkm-binding protein (BBP), which specifically binds to Bkm (GATA), in the germ cells of the heterogametic sex [ovary, in the case of female heterogamety (in snakes); and testis, in the case of male heterogamety (in mice, rats and humans)]. It is in these tissues that decondensation of the W and Y chromosomes occurs. We suggest that GATA repeats of Bkm bring about a coordinated decondensation of the W and Y sex chromosomes in the germ cells in response to BBP, which may serve as a "switch" for the activation of the genes present on the W and Y sex chromosomes. Since the number of GATA repeats, in tandem, necessary for the binding of BBP is flexible, there is no selection pressure on the maintenance of the exact length of the repeats, unless it is reduced below a threshold at which the binding is completely abolished.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to John Wiley and Sons.
Keywords:Banded Krait Minor Satellite DNA; Minisatellite; Banded Krait Minor Satellite DNA-binding Protein; GATA-1-4 Zinc Finger Proteins; Condensation; Decondensation; Heterogamety
ID Code:46808
Deposited On:06 Jul 2011 05:02
Last Modified:06 Jul 2011 05:02

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