Partitioning of Large and Minichromosomes in Trypanosoma brucei

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Science  25 Apr 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5312, pp. 611-614
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5312.611

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The Trypanosoma brucei nuclear genome contains about 100 minichromosomes of between 50 to 150 kilobases and about 20 chromosomes of 0.2 to 6 megabase pairs. Minichromosomes contain nontranscribed copies of variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) genes and are thought to expand the VSG gene pool. Varying VSG expression allows the parasite to avoid elimination by the host immune system. The mechanism of inheritance of T. brucei chromosomes was investigated by in situ hybridization in combination with immunofluorescence. The minichromosome population segregated with precision, by association with the central intranuclear mitotic spindle. However, their positional dynamics differed from that of the large chromosomes, which were partitioned by kinetochore microtubules.

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