Processing steps splice out the spacers., ] ( .resulting in three rRNAs?)
Some moderately repetitive sequences are transcribed
In Chapter 11, we described one kind of moderately repetitive sequence found at the ends of chromosomes: the telomeres that maintain the length and integrity of the chromosome as it replicates. These sequences are not transcribed into RNA. In contrast, some moderately repetitive DNA sequences are transcribed. These sequences code for tRNAs and rRNAs, which are used in protein synthesis (see Chapter 12).
The cell transcribes tRNAs and rRNAs constantly, but even at the maximum rate of transcription, single copies of the DNA sequences coding for them would be inadequate to supply the large amounts of these molecules needed by most cells; hence, the genome has multiple copies of these sequences. Since these moderately repetitive sequences are transcribed into RNA, they are properly termed "genes," and we can speak of rRNA genes and tRNA genes.
In mammals, there are four different rRNA molecules that make up the ribosome: the 18S, 5.8S, 28S, and 5S rRNAs. (The "S" term describes how a substance behaves in a centrifuge and, in general, is related to the size of a molecule.) The 18S, 5.8S, and 28S rRNAs are transcribed from a repeated DNA sequence as a single precursor RNA molecule, which is twice the size of the three ultimate products (Figure 14.2). Several posttranscriptional steps cut this precursor into the final three rRNA products and discard the nonuseful, or "spacer," RNA. The sequence encoding these RNAs is moderately repetitive in humans: A total of 280 copies of the sequence are located in clusters on five different chromosomes.
These moderately repetitive sequences remain fixed in their locations on the genome. Another class of moderately repetitive sequences, however, can change their location, moving about the genome.
14.2 A Moderately Repetitive Sequence Codes for rRNA This rRNA gene, along with its nontranscribed spacer region, is repeated 280 times in the human genome, with clusters on five chromosomes. Once this gene has been transcribed, posttranscriptional processing removes the spacers within the transcribed region and separates the primary transcript into the three final rRNA products.
Most of the remaining scattered moderately repetitive DNA sequences are not stably integrated into the genome. Instead, these sequences can move from place to place in the genome. Such sequences are called transposons. They make up about 45 percent of the human genome, far more than the 3-10 percent found in the other sequenced eukaryotes.
There are four main types of transposons in eukaryotes:
► SINEs (short interspersed elements) are up to 500 bp long and are transcribed, but not translated.
► LINEs (long interspersed elements) are up to 7,000 bp long, and some are transcribed and translated into proteins. They constitute about 15 percent of the human genome.
Both of these elements are present in more than 100,000 copies. They move about the genome in a distinctive way: They make an RNA copy of themselves, which acts as a template for new DNA, which then inserts itself at a new location in the genome. In this "copy and paste" mechanism, the original sequence stays where it is and the copy inserts itself at a new location.
► Retrotransposons also make an RNA copy of themselves when they move about the genome. They constitute about 17 percent of the human genome. Some of them code for some of the proteins necessary for their own
The rRNA coding unit is repeated many times (280 in humans).
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.