Structure and evolution of a family of interspersed repetitive DNA sequences in Caenorhabditis elegans

Kevin M. Felsenstein, Scott W. Emmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The structure of three members of a repetitive DNA family from the genome of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been studied. The three repetitive elements have a similar unitary structure consisting of two 451-bp sequences in inverted orientation separated by 491 bp, 1.5 kb, and 2.5 kb, respectively. The 491-bp sequence separating the inverted 451-bp sequences of the shortest element is found adjacent to one of the repeats in the other two elements as well. The combination of the three sequences we define as the basic repetitive unit. Comparison of the nucleotide sequences of the three elements has allowed the identification of the one most closely resembling the primordial repetitive element. Additionally, a process of co-evolution is evident that results in the introduction of identical sequence changes into both copies of the inverted sequence within a single unit. Possible mechanisms are discussed for the homogenization of these sequences. A direct test of one possible homogenization mechanism, namely homologous recombination between the inverted sequences accompanied by gene conversion, shows that recombination between the inverted repeats does not occur at high frequency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-240
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 1987


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Homologous recombination
  • Nucleotide sequence
  • Repetitive DNA family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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