The excision of internal eliminated sequences (IESs) occurs during the differentiation of a new somatic macronuclear genome in ciliated protozoa. In Paramecium tetraurelia, IESs show few conserved features with the exception of an invariant 5′-TA-3′ dinucleotide that is part of an 8-bp inverted terminal repeat consensus sequence with similarity to the ends of mariner/Tc1 transposons. We have isolated and analyzed two mutant cell lines that are defective in excision of individual IESs in the A-51 surface antigen gene. Each cell line contains a mutation in the flanking 5′-TA-3′ dinucleotide of IES6435 and IES1835 creating a 5′-CA-3′ flanking sequence that prevents excision. The results demonstrate that the first position of the 5′-TA-3′ is required IES excision just as previous mutants have shown that the second position (the A residue) is required. Combining these results with other Paramecium IES mutants suggests that there are few positions essential for IES excision in Paramecium. Analysis of many IESs reveals that there is a strong bias against particular nucleotides at some positions near the IES termini. Some of these strongly biased positions correspond to known IES mutations, others correlate with unusual features of excision.
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Vol. 51 • No. 6