Structure and organization of the rDNA intergenic spacer in lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush)

Kent M. Reed, Ruth B. Phillips

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A total-genomic cosmid library was created to isolate complete copies of the rDNA cistron of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in order to study the structure and organization of the intergenic spacer (IGS) in this species. A total of 60 rDNA-positive clones (average inserts > 25 kb) was recovered by screening the library with a rDNA-specific probe. Positive clones were assayed for the presence of the two internal rDNA spacers (ITS-1 and ITS-2) and the entire IGS fragment was successfully amplified from 42 clones by PCR. Length of the IGS fragments ranged from 9.4 to 17.8 kb. Comparative restriction mapping of the IGS-PCR products of several clones indicated two regions of extensive length variation surrounding a central region with sequence conservation. DNA sequence analysis was used to investigate the molecular basis of the IGS length variation and focused on identifying the region responsible for this variation. Over 9 kb of DNA sequence was obtained for one clone (A1) with a total IGS length of approximately 12.4 kb. Sequence of a conserved central region contained two open reading frames and a number of short direct repeats. Length variation in the IGS was determined by RFLP to result from differences in the number of copies of repetitive DNA sequences. These included an 89-bp tandem repeat (α repeats), an 82-bp element (β repeats), a 168-177-bp element (χ repeats), and a 179-201-bp element (δ repeats). Overall nucleotide composition of the IGS was biased towards A and T (%GC = 47.4). Maintenance of discrete rDNA-length variants in lake trout suggests that the rate of gene conversion is insufficient to produce homogeneous copies across the genome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-16
Number of pages12
JournalChromosome Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank M. O. Dorschner for technical advice and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by a grant from the US National Science Foundation (DEB-9707468).


  • Intergenic spacer (IGS)
  • Lake trout
  • Ribosomal DNA
  • Salmonid
  • Salvelinus namaycush


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