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Structural and transcription analysis of two homologous genes for the P700 chlorophyll a-apoproteins in Chlamydomonas reinhardii: evidence for in vivo trans-splicing

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Abstract

The two homologous genes for the P700 chlorophyll a-apoproteins (ps1A1 and ps1A2) are encoded by the plastom in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardii. The structure and organization of the two genes were determined by comparison with the homologous genes from maize using data from heterologous hybridizations as well as from DNA and RNA sequencing. While the ps1A2 (736 codons) gene shows a continuous gene organization, the ps1A1 (754 codons) gene possesses some unusual features. The discontinuous gene is split into three separate exons which are scattered around the circular chloroplast genome. Exon 1 (86 bp) is separated by ∼50 kb from exon 2 (198 bp), which is located ∼ 90 kb apart from exon 3 (1984 bp). All exons are flanked by intronic sequences of group II. Transcription analysis reveals that the ps1A2 gene hybridizes with a 2.8-kb transcript, while all exon regions of the ps1A1 gene are homologous to a mature mRNA of 2.7 kb. From our data we conclude that the three distantly separated exonic sequences of the ps1A1 gene constitute a functional gene which probably operates by a trans-splicing mechanism.

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