A family of multiple autonomously replicating sequences (ARSs) which are located at several chromosomal ends of Hansenula polymorpha DL-1 has been identified and characterized. Genomic Southern blotting with an ARS, HARS36, originating from the end of a chromosome, as a probe showed several homologues in the genome of H. polymorpha. Nucleotide sequences of the three fragments obtained by a selective cloning for chromosomal ends were nearly identical to that of HARS36. All three fragments harbored an ARS motif and ended with 18 to 23 identical repetitions of 5′-GGGTGGCG-3′ which resemble the telomeric repeat sequence in other eukaryotes. Transformation of H. polymorpha with nonlinearized plasmids containing the newly obtained telomeric ARSs almost exclusively resulted in the targeted integration of a single copy or multiple tandem copies of the plasmid into the chromosomes. The sensitivity to exonuclease Bal31 digestion of the common DNA fragment in all integrants confirmed the telomeric origin of HARS36 homologues, suggesting that several chromosomal ends, if not all of them, consisted of the same ARS motif and highly conserved sequences observed in HARS36. Even though the frequencies of targeted recombination were varied among the ends of the chromosomes, the overall frequency was over 96%. The results suggested that the integration of the plasmids containing telemeric ARSs occurred largely through homologous recombination at the telomeric repeats, which serve as high-frequency recombination targets.
Several autonomously replicating sequences of Hansenula polymorpha DL-1 (HARSs) with the characteristics of tandem integration were cloned by an enrichment procedure and analyzed for their functional elements to elucidate the mechanism of multiple integration in tandem repeats. All plasmids harboring newly cloned HARSs showed a high frequency of transformation and were maintained episomally before stabilization. After stabilization, the transforming DNA was stably integrated into the chromosome. HARS36 was selected for its high efficiency of transformation and tendency for integration. Several tandemly repeated copies of the transforming plasmid containing HARS36 (pCE36) integrated into the vicinity of the chromosomal end. Bal 31 digestion of the total DNA from the integrants followed by Southern blotting generated progressive shortening of the hybridization signal, indicating the telomeric localization of the transforming plasmids on the chromosome. The minimum region of HARS36 required for its HARS activity was analyzed by deletion analyses. Three important regions, A, B, and C, for episomal replication and integration were detected. Analysis of the DNA sequences of regions A and B required for the episomal replication revealed that region A contained several AT-rich sequences that showed sequence homology with the ARS core consensus sequence of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Region B contained two directly repeated sequences which were predicted to form a bent DNA structure. Deletion of the AT-rich core in region A resulted in a complete loss of ARS activity, and deletion of the repeated sequences in region B greatly reduced the stability of the transforming plasmid and resulted in retarded cell growth. Region C was required for the facilitated chromosomal integration of transforming plasmids.
Genetic transformation of the dimorphic pathogenic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum can result in chromosomal integration of the transforming DNA or the generation of multicopy linear plasmids carrying the transforming DNA. We showed previously that Escherichia coli plasmids do not replicate autonomously in H. capsulatum without significant modifications, one of which is the in vivo addition of Histoplasma telomeres at the termini of linear DNA. To address the requirements for autonomous replication in H. capsulatum, we constructed a circular E. coli plasmid containing adjacent inverted stretches of Histoplasma telomeric repeats separated by a unique restriction site. The linearized plasmid bearing telomeric termini was maintained in H. capsulatum without modification other than the addition of more telomeric sequence. We recovered the original plasmid in E. coli after removal of the telomeric termini by using engineered restriction sites. Thus, no special Histoplasma modification or sequence other than the telomeres was needed for autonomous replication in H. capsulatum. Additionally, this plasmid provides a shuttle vector that replicates autonomously in E. coli (as a circular plasmid) and in H. capsulatum (as a linear plasmid).
Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein, the main function of which is to synthesize
telomeres, i.e. repetitive sequences which are localized at the ends of
eukaryotic chromosomes. Telomerase maintains the stability of the genome in
eukaryotic cells by replicating chromosomal ends. The structural and functional
investigation of the telomerase complex is significantly restricted due to
difficulties connected with the isolation of its main catalytic subunit in
recombinant form. Herein, we describe a method developed for the isolation of
the recombinant telomerase reverse transcriptase from thermotolerant
yeastHansenula polymorpha. A functional test performed for
the isolated protein and the RNA/DNA duplex, simulating the interaction of
telomerase RNA and telomere, reveals that the isolated catalytic subunit of
telomerase possesses limited reverse transcriptase activity.
telomerase reverse transcriptase; recombinant proteins; thermotolerant yeastHansenula polymorpha.
The non-transcribed spacer (NTS) regions of the linear extrachromosomal palindromic rDNA from the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena thermophila contain, in addition to sequences regulating transcription, the origin(s) of bidirectional replication as well as telomere associated sequences. These NTS regions function as autonomous replication sequences (ARS) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Kiss, G.B., Amin, A.A. and Pearlman, R.E., Mol. Cell Biol. 1: 535-543, 1981). We have now identified in the 5' NTS two adjacent but non-overlapping restriction fragments which function as ARS in yeast. These fragments contain 200 bp of duplicated sequence and include the in vivo origin of rDNA replication. The ARS in the 3' NTS has been subdivided into a sequence which allows high frequency transformation of yeast but with transformants extremely unstable when grown either under selective or non-selective conditions, and a sequence which appears to be required for plasmid maintenance yet not to be essential for high frequency transformation. Detailed analysis of the DNA sequences in these regions gives rise to interesting information about structural and functional features of the molecule.
A 1.5-kilobase-pair SalI-HindIII (SH) restriction fragment from the region of Saccharomyces cerevisiae chromosome XIV immediately adjacent to the centromere appears to contain sequences that act as a hot spot for mitotic recombination. The presence of SH DNA on an autonomously replicating plasmid stimulates homologous genetic exchange between yeast genomic sequences and those present on the plasmid. In all recombinants characterized, exchange occurs in plasmid yeast sequences adjacent to rather than within the SH DNA. Hybridization analyses reveal that SH-containing plasmids are present in linear as well as circular form in S. cerevisiae and that linear forms are generated by cleavage at specific sites. Presumably, it is the linear form of the plasmid that is responsible for the stimulation of genetic exchange. Based on these observations, it is proposed that this DNA fragment contains a centromere-linked recombination hot spot and that SH-stimulated recombination occurs via a mechanism similar to double-strand-gap repair (J. W. Szostak, T. Orr-Weaver, J. Rothstein, and F. Stahl, Cell 33:25-35 1983).
Particular combinations of fungal strains and transformation vectors allow for fungal rearrangement of normally integrative plasmids, resulting in the creation of linear self-replicating plasmids in Fusarium oxysporum. The rearrangement results in the addition of fungal DNA, including telomere consensus sequences, to plasmid termini. The mechanism by which this rearrangement occurs is unclear, but it has similarities to extrachromosomal gene amplification. A DNA fragment which allows for linear autonomous replication upon reintroduction to the fungus was subcloned and sequenced. This DNA sequence contains the repeated telomeric sequence TTAGGG flanked by a region of twofold symmetry consisting primarily of pUC12 DNA. Isolation and identification of this sequence is the first step toward development of vectors that function as artificial chromosomes in filamentous fungi. This sequence was shown to promote autonomous replication and enhance transformation in several strains of F. oxysporum, Nectria haematococca, and Cryphonectria parasitica.
We marked a large number of yeast telomeres within their Y' regions by transforming strains with a fragment of Y' DNA into which the URA3 gene had been inserted. A few of the Ura+ transformants obtained were very unstable and were found to contain autonomously replicating URA3-marked circular Y' elements in high copy number. These marked extrachromosomal circles were capable of reintegrating into the chromosome at other telomeric locations. In contrast, most of the Ura+ transformants obtained were quite stable mitotically and were marked at bona fide chromosomal ends. These stable transformants gave rise to mitotically unstable URA3-marked circular Y' elements at a low frequency (up to 2.5%). The likelihood that such excisions and integrations represent a natural process in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is supported by our identification of putative Y' circles in untransformed strains. The transfer of Y' information among telomeres via a circular intermediate may be important for homogenizing the sequences at the ends of yeast chromosomes and for generating the frequent telomeric rearrangements that have been observed in S. cerevisiae.
We have investigated two reactions that occur on telomeric sequences introduced into Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells by transformation. The elongation reaction added repeats of the yeast telomeric sequence C1-3A to telomeric sequences at the end of linear DNA molecules. The reaction worked on the Tetrahymena telomeric sequence C4A2 and also on the simple repeat CA. The reaction was orientation specific: it occurred only when the GT-rich strand ran 5' to 3' towards the end of the molecule. Telomere elongation occurred by non-template-directed DNA synthesis rather than any type of recombination with chromosomal telomeres, because C1-3A repeats could be added to unrelated DNA sequences between the CA-rich repeats and the terminus of the transforming DNA. The elongation reaction was very efficient, and we believe that it was responsible for maintaining an average telomere length despite incomplete replication by template-directed DNA polymerase. The resolution reaction processed a head-to-head inverted repeat of telomeric sequences into two new telomeres at a frequency of 10(-2) per cell division.
We developed an efficient electrotransformation system for the pathogenic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum and used it to examine the effects of features of the transforming DNA on transformation efficiency and fate of the transforming DNA and to demonstrate fungal expression of two recombinant Escherichia coli genes, hph and lacZ. Linearized DNA and plasmids containing Histoplasma telomeric sequences showed the greatest transformation efficiencies, while the plasmid vector had no significant effect, nor did the derivation of the selectable URA5 marker (native Histoplasma gene or a heterologous Podospora anserina gene). Electrotransformation resulted in more frequent multimerization, other modification, or possibly chromosomal integration of transforming telomeric plasmids when saturating amounts of DNA were used, but this effect was not observed with smaller amounts of transforming DNA. We developed another selection system using a hygromycin B resistance marker from plasmid pAN7-1, consisting of the E. coli hph gene flanked by Aspergillus nidulans promoter and terminator sequences. Much of the heterologous fungal sequences could be removed without compromising function in H. capsulatum, allowing construction of a substantially smaller effective marker fragment. Transformation efficiency increased when nonselective conditions were maintained for a time after electrotransformation before selection with the protein synthesis inhibitor hygromycin B was imposed. Finally, we constructed a readily detectable and quantifiable reporter gene by fusing Histoplasma URA5 with E. coli lacZ, resulting in expression of functional β-galactosidase in H. capsulatum. Demonstration of expression of bacterial genes as effective selectable markers and reporters, together with a highly efficient electrotransformation system, provide valuable approaches for molecular genetic analysis and manipulation of H. capsulatum, which have proven useful for examination of targeted gene disruption, regulated gene expression, and potential virulence determinants in this fungus.
It has been previously shown that linear plasmids bearing Tetrahymena telomeric sequences are able to replicate autonomously in the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina (1). However, autonomous replication occurs in only 50-70% of the transformants, suggesting a defect in the recognition of the Tetrahymena telomeric template by the putative P. anserina telomerase so that only a fraction of entering DNA is stabilized into linear extrachromosomal molecules. We have cloned DNA sequences added to the Tetrahymena (T2G4)n ends of the linear plasmid. Nucleotide sequencing showed that these sequences are exclusively composed of T2AG3 repeat units. Hybridization experiments of Bal31 treated DNA showed that T2AG3 repeats are confined within 200 bp in chromosomal P. anserina telomeres. A new plasmid has been constructed so that after linearization, the terminal sequences contain T2AG3 repeats. This linear molecule transforms P. anserina with a high frequency (up to 1.75 x 10(4) transformants/micrograms), autonomous replication occurs in 100% of the transformants and the plasmid copy number is about 2-3 per nucleus. These results underscore the importance of the telomeric repeat nucleotide sequence for efficient recognition as functional telomeric DNA in vivo and provide the first step toward the development of an artificial chromosome cloning system for filamentous fungi.
The effect of the chromosomal ends of Tetrahymena thermophila on the stability of linear transforming molecules in the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina was tested. A derivative of an integrative vector for this fungus has been constructed, so that after linearization, the ends of the plasmid are the telomeric sequences of T. thermophila. After transformation, this linear molecule was maintained as an extrachromosomal plasmid with no integrated copies in about 50% of the transformants. Under selective conditions, there was approximately one linear molecule per 5 to 10 nuclei, and these extrachromosomal molecules were rapidly lost under nonselective conditions. The circular plasmid carrying an inverted repeat of T. thermophila telomeres could be linearized and processed in vivo.
The covalently closed terminal hairpins of the linear duplex-DNA genomes of the orthopoxvirus vaccinia and the leporipoxvirus Shope fibroma virus (SFV) have been cloned as imperfect palindromes within circular plasmids in yeast cells and recombination-deficient Escherichia coli. The viral telomeres inserted within these recombinant plasmids are equivalent to the inverted-repeat structures detected as telomeric replicative intermediates during poxvirus replication in vivo. Although the telomeres of vaccinia and SFV show little sequence homology, the termini from both viral genomes exist as AT-rich terminal hairpins with extrahelical bases and alternate "flip-flop" configurations. Using an in vivo replication assay in which circular plasmid DNA was transfected into poxvirus-infected cells, we demonstrated the efficient replication and resolution of the cloned imperfect palindromes to bona fide hairpin termini. The resulting linear minichromosomes, which were readily purified from transfected cells, were shown by restriction enzyme mapping and by electron microscopy to have intact covalently closed hairpin termini at both ends. In addition, staggered unidirectional deletion derivatives of both the cloned vaccinia and SFV telomeric palindromes localized an approximately 200-base-pair DNA region in which the sequence organization was highly conserved and which was necessary for the resolution event. These data suggest a conserved mechanism of the resolution of poxvirus telomeres.
Hansenula polymorpha DL1 is a methylotrophic yeast, widely used in fundamental studies of methanol metabolism, peroxisome biogenesis and function, and also as a microbial cell factory for production of recombinant proteins and metabolic engineering towards the goal of high temperature ethanol production.
We have sequenced the 9 Mbp H. polymorpha DL1 genome and performed whole-genome analysis for the H. polymorpha transcriptome obtained from both methanol- and glucose-grown cells. RNA-seq analysis revealed the complex and dynamic character of the H. polymorpha transcriptome under the two studied conditions, identified abundant and highly unregulated expression of 40% of the genome in methanol grown cells, and revealed alternative splicing events. We have identified subtelomerically biased protein families in H. polymorpha, clusters of LTR elements at G + C-poor chromosomal loci in the middle of each of the seven H. polymorpha chromosomes, and established the evolutionary position of H. polymorpha DL1 within a separate yeast clade together with the methylotrophic yeast Pichia pastoris and the non-methylotrophic yeast Dekkera bruxellensis. Intergenome comparisons uncovered extensive gene order reshuffling between the three yeast genomes. Phylogenetic analyses enabled us to reveal patterns of evolution of methylotrophy in yeasts and filamentous fungi.
Our results open new opportunities for in-depth understanding of many aspects of H. polymorpha life cycle, physiology and metabolism as well as genome evolution in methylotrophic yeasts and may lead to novel improvements toward the application of H. polymorpha DL-1 as a microbial cell factory.
Hansenula polymorpha; Genome; Methylotrophic yeasts; RNA-seq; Yeast evolution
Bidirectional replication of the linear chromosomes and plasmids of Streptomyces spp. results in single-strand overhangs at their 3′ ends, which contain extensive complex palindromic sequences. The overhangs are believed to be patched by DNA synthesis primed by a terminal protein that remains covalently bound to the 5′ ends of the telomeres. We discovered that in vitro a conserved 167-bp telomere DNA binds strongly to RNA polymerase holoenzyme and exhibits promoter activities stronger than those of an rRNA operon. In vivo, the telomere DNA exhibited promoter activity in both orientations on a circular plasmid in Streptomyces. The telomere promoter is also active on a linear plasmid during exponential growth. Such promoter activity in a telomere has not hitherto been observed in eukaryotic or prokaryotic replicons. Streptomyces telomere promoters may be involved in priming the terminal Okazaki fragment (during replication) replicative transfer (during conjugation), or expression of downstream genes (including a conserved ttrA helicase-like gene involved in conjugal transfer). Interestingly, the Streptomyces telomeres also function as a promoter in Escherichia coli and as a transcription enhancer in yeast.
Transformation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains was examined by using the URA3 and TRP1 genes cloned into M13 vectors in the absence of sequences capable of promoting autonomous replication. These constructs transform S. cerevisiae cells to prototrophy by homologous recombination with the resident mutant gene. Single-stranded DNA was found to transform S. cerevisiae cells at efficiencies greater than that of double-stranded DNA. No conversion of single-stranded transforming DNA into duplex forms could be detected during the transformation process, and we conclude that single-stranded DNA may participate directly in recombination with chromosomal sequences. Transformation with single-stranded DNA gave rise to both gene conversion and reciprocal exchange events. Cotransformation with competing heterologous single-stranded DNA specifically inhibited transformation by single-stranded DNA, suggesting that one of the components in the transformation-recombination process has a preferential affinity for single-stranded DNA.
Total DNAs isolated from two Hansenula polymorpha (Pichia angusta) strains having chromosomal single or tandem multiple integrations of a pUC18-derived expression plasmid produced Escherichia coli transformants which contained plasmids of different size and/or organization than that of the expression plasmid. Evidence that plasmid-like structures are formed in H. polymorpha and that their formation is stimulated by DNA damage is presented in this study.
The expression of a recombinant gene by yeasts seeded into soil samples was directly measured by analyzing transcripts and gene product occurrences in soil extracts. Two yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae WHL292 and Hansenula polymorpha LR9-Apr4, both engineered by a synthetic gene sequence encoding the mammalian peptide aprotinin, produced and secreted this peptide in batch cultures at concentrations of 90 and 64 ng ml-1, respectively. In S. cerevisiae, the aprotinin gene was located on plasmid p707 and expressed constitutively. H. polymorpha carried the gene chromosomally integrated, and its expression was inducible by methanol. To detect aprotinin transcripts, cells were directly lysed in the soil samples and the crude lysates were hybridized to oligo(dT)-coated magnetized polystyrene beads (Dynabeads). After separation and purification in a magnetic field, aprotinin mRNA was detected by reverse transcriptase PCR with aprotinin gene-specific primers. Transcripts from 10 cells g of soil-1 were sufficient for detection. When 10(7) cells of S. cerevisiae were inoculated into soil, aprotinin mRNA was detectable during the first 4 days. Addition of methanol and a combined nutrient solution was necessary to induce aprotinin gene expression of H. polymorpha in soil. Aprotinin could be detected directly in soil extracts by an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with monoclonal aprotinin-specific antibodies. The detection threshold was 45 pg g of soil-1. In presterilized soil inoculated with S. cerevisiae (10(6) CFU g-1), aprotinin accumulated during the first 10 days to 12 ng g of soil-1 and then remained constant.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Recombineering technology in E. coli enables targeting of linear donor DNA to circular recipient DNA using short shared homology sequences. In this work, we demonstrate that recombineering is also able to support recombination between a pair of linear DNA substrates (linear/linear recombineering) in vivo in E. coli. Linear DNA up to 100 kb is accurately modified and remains intact without undergoing rearrangements after recombination. This system will be valuable for direct in vivo manipulation of large linear DNA including the N15 and PY54 prophages and linear animal viruses, and for assembly of linear constructs as artificial chromosome vectors.
BAC; linear; recombineering; recombination; phage; E. coli; chromosome; telomere
Chromosome aberrations may cause cancer and many heritable diseases. Topoisomerase I has been suspected of causing chromosome aberrations by mediating illegitimate recombination. The effects of deletion and of overexpression of the topoisomerase I gene on illegitimate recombination in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been studied. Yeast transformations were carried out with DNA fragments that did not have any homology to the genomic DNA. The frequency of illegitimate integration was 6- to 12-fold increased in a strain overexpressing topoisomerase I compared with that in isogenic control strains. Hot spot sequences [(G/C)(A/T)T] for illegitimate integration target sites accounted for the majority of the additional events after overexpression of topoisomerase I. These hot spot sequences correspond to sequences previously identified in vitro as topoisomerase I preferred cleavage sequences in other organisms. Furthermore, such hot spot sequences were found in 44% of the integration events present in the TOP1 wild-type strain and at a significantly lower frequency in the top1delta strain. Our results provide in vivo evidence that a general eukaryotic topoisomerase I enzyme nicks DNA and ligates nonhomologous ends, leading to illegitimate recombination.
Molecular evolution is a powerful means of engineering proteins. It usually requires the generation of a large recombinant DNA library of variants for cloning into a phage or plasmid vector, and the transformation of a host organism for expression and screening of the variant proteins. However, library size is often limited by the low yields of circular DNA and the poor transformation efficiencies of linear DNA. Here we have overcome this limitation by amplification of recombinant circular DNA molecules directly from ligation reactions. The amplification by bacteriophage Phi29 polymerase increased the number of transformants; thus from a nanogram-scale ligation of DNA fragments comprising two sub-libraries of variant antibody domains, we succeeded in amplifying a highly diverse and large combinatorial phage antibody library (>109 transformants in Escherichia coli and 105-fold more transformants than without amplification). From the amplified library, but not from the smaller un-amplified library, we could isolate several antibody fragments against a target antigen. It appears that amplification of ligations with Phi29 polymerase can help recover clones and molecular diversity otherwise lost in the transformation step. A further feature of the method is the option of using PCR-amplified vectors for ligations.
The construction of mutant fungal strains is often limited by the poor efficiency of homologous recombination in these organisms. Higher recombination efficiencies can be obtained by increasing the length of homologous DNA flanking the transformation marker, although this is a tedious process when standard molecular biology techniques are used for the construction of gene replacement cassettes. Here, we present a two-step technology which takes advantage of an Escherichia coli strain expressing the phage λ Red(gam, bet, exo) functions and involves (i) the construction in this strain of a recombinant cosmid by in vivo recombination between a cosmid carrying a genomic region of interest and a PCR-generated transformation marker flanked by 50 bp regions of homology with the target DNA and (ii) genetic exchange in the fungus itself between the chromosomal locus and the circular or linearized recombinant cosmid. This strategy enables the rapid establishment of mutant strains carrying gene knock-outs with efficiencies >50%. It should also be appropriate for the construction of fungal strains with gene fusions or promoter replacements.
Telomeres are essential structures that stabilize the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes and allow complete replication of linear DNA molecules. We examined the structure and replication of telomeres by observing the fate of the linear extrachromosomal rDNA of Tetrahymena after injection into unfertilized Xenopus eggs. The rDNA replicated efficiently as a linear extrachromosomal molecule, increasing in mass 30-50-fold by 15-20 h after injection. In addition, the molecules increased in length by addition of up to several kilobases of DNA to their termini. Sequence analysis demonstrated that the added DNA bore no resemblance to known telomeres. The junction between the rDNA and added DNA was apparently random, indicating that the addition reaction did not involve a site-specific recombination or integration event. Surprisingly, Southern blot analysis showed that the added DNA did not derive from Xenopus DNA, but rather from co-purifying and therefore co- injected Tetrahymena DNA. The nonspecific ligation of random DNA fragments to the rDNA termini suggests that microinjected Tetrahymena rDNA ends are not recognized as telomeres in Xenopus eggs.
Telomeres are essential repetitive sequences at the ends of chromosomes that prevent chromosome fusion and degradation. We have successfully recapitulated these two protective functions in vivo and in vitro by incubating blunt-end DNA constructs having vertebrate telomeric ends in Xenopus eggs and egg extracts. Constructs with telomeric ends are stable as linear molecules; constructs with non-telomeric ends undergo intramolecular fusion. In extracts, 99.8% of the telomeric constructs from 78 to 700 bp in length are assembled into 'model telomeres' in <5 min and have an extra-polated half-life of >3.5 years. Non-telomeric constructs circularize with first order kinetics and a half-life of 4 h. In living eggs the telomeric constructs are protected from fusion and degradation. The stability of the telomeric constructs is not due to covalent processing. Extract can protect approximately 100 pM telomeric ends (equivalent to 1.7 x 10(7) ends/egg) even in the presence of a 20-fold excess of double-stranded telomeric DNA, suggesting that protection requires end-specific factors. Constructs with (TTGGGG) n repeats are unstable, suggesting that short tracts of this and other telomere-like sequences found within human telomeres could lead to genome instability if exposed by partial telomere erosion during aging.
The rRNA genes in the somatic macronucleus of Tetrahymena thermophila are normally on 21 kb linear palindromic molecules (rDNA). We examined the effect on rRNA gene dosage of transforming T.thermophila macronuclei with plasmid constructs containing a pair of tandemly repeated rDNA replication origin regions unlinked to the rRNA gene. A significant proportion of the plasmid sequences were maintained as high copy circular molecules, eventually consisting solely of tandem arrays of origin regions. As reported previously for cells transformed by a construct in which the same tandem rDNA origins were linked to the rRNA gene [Yu, G.-L. and Blackburn, E. H. (1990) Mol. Cell. Biol., 10, 2070-2080], origin sequences recombined to form linear molecules bearing several tandem repeats of the origin region, as well as rRNA genes. The total number of rDNA origin sequences eventually exceeded rRNA gene copies by approximately 20- to 40-fold and the number of circular replicons carrying only rDNA origin sequences exceeded rRNA gene copies by 2- to 3-fold. However, the rRNA gene dosage was unchanged. Hence, simply monitoring the total number of rDNA origin regions is not sufficient to regulate rRNA gene copy number.