Unusual compact rDNA gene arrangements within some members of the Ascomycota: evidence for molecular co-evolution between ITS1 and ITS2
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The internal transcribed spacers of the ribosomal DNA tandem repeat were examined in members of the ascomycetous genus Sphaeronaemella. Species of Sphaeronaemella and its mitotic counterpart Gabarnaudia, have a compact rDNA gene arrangement due to unusually short internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions. Examination of these regions from phylogenetically related taxa, Cornuvesica, Gondwanamyces, and Ceratocystis, showed that their ITS1 and ITS2 regions could be folded into central hairpin-like structures with the size reduction in species of Sphaeronaemella being due to length reduction of the main-hairpin and the loss of smaller hairpin-like structures that emanate from the main hairpin. A databank compilation, combined with newly obtained sequences, provided an ITS data set that includes sequences of 600 species belonging to the Ascomycota. Correlation analysis revealed that the sizes of ITS1 and ITS2 show a strong positive correlation, suggesting that the 2 rDNA regions have co-evolved. This supports biochemical evidence indicating that the ITS1 and ITS2 segments interact to facilitate the maturation of the rRNA precursor.