Selfish DNA in Protein-Coding Genes of Rickettsia

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Science  13 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5490, pp. 347-350
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5490.347

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Rickettsia conorii, the aetiological agent of Mediterranean spotted fever, is an intracellular bacterium transmitted by ticks. Preliminary analyses of the nearly complete genome sequence of R. conorii have revealed 44 occurrences of a previously undescribed palindromic repeat (150 base pairs long) throughout the genome. Unexpectedly, this repeat was found inserted in-frame within 19 different R. conorii open reading frames likely to encode functional proteins. We found the same repeat in proteins of otherRickettsia species. The finding of a mobile element inserted in many unrelated genes suggests the potential role of selfish DNA in the creation of new protein sequences.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jean-michel.claverie{at}

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