Stable propagation of 'selfish' genetic elements

Soundarapandian Velmurugan, Shwetal Mehta, Dina Uzri, Makkuni Jayaram

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Extrachromosomal or chromosomally integrated genetic elements are common among prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. These elements exhibit a variety of 'selfish' strategies to ensure their replication and propagation during the growth of their host cells. To establish long-term persistence, they have to moderate the degree of selfishness so as not to imperil the fitness of their hosts. Earlier genetic and biochemical studies together with more recent cell biological investigations have revealed details of the partitioning mechanisms employed by low copy bacterial plasmids. At least some bacterial chromosomes also appear to rely on similar mechanisms for their own segregation. The 2 μm plasmid of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and related yeast plasmids provide models for optimized eukaryotic selfish DNA elements. Selfish DNA elements exploit the genetic endowments of their hosts without imposing an undue metabolic burden on them. The partitioning systems of these plasmids appear to make use of a molecular trick by which the plasmids feed into the segregation pathway established for the host chromosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-636
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biosciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacterial plasmids
  • Cohesion complex
  • Copy number control
  • Plasmid segragation
  • Selfish DNA
  • Yeast 2 micron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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