Intergenic conversion is a mechanism for the concerted evolution of repeated DNA sequences. A new approach for the isolation of intergenic convertants of serine tRNA genes in the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe is described. Contrary to a previous scheme, the intergenic conversion events studied in this case need not result in functional tRNA genes. The procedure utilizes crosses of strains that are homozygous for an active UGA suppressor tRNA gene, and the resulting progeny spores are screened for loss of suppressor activity. In this way, intergenic convertants of a tRNA gene are identified that inherit varying stretches of DNA sequence from either of two other tRNA genes. The information transferred between genes includes anticodon and intron sequences. Two of the three tRNA genes involved in these information transfers are located on different chromosomes. The results indicate that intergenic conversion is a conservative process. No infidelity is observed in the nucleotide sequence transfers. This provides further evidence for the hypothesis that intergenic conversion and allelic conversion are the result of the same molecular mechanism. The screening procedure for intergenic revertants also yields spontaneous mutations that inactivate the suppressor tRNA gene. Point mutations and insertions of A occur at various sites at low frequency. In contrast, A insertions at one specific site occur with high frequency in each of the three tRNA genes. This new type of mutation hot spot is found also in vegetative cells.
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