Challenge Questions

38. An explorer discovers a strange new species of plant and sends some of the plant tissue to a geneticist to study. The geneticist isolates chromatin from the plant and examines it with the electron microscope. She observes what appear to be beads on a string. She then adds a small amount of nuclease, which cleaves the string into individual beads that each contain 280 bp of DNA. After digestion with more nuclease, she finds that a 120-bp fragment of DNA remains attached to a core of histone proteins. Analysis of the histone core reveals histones in the following proportions:

H2A 25%

H2B 25%

On the basis of these observations, what conclusions could the geneticist make about the probable structure of the nucleosome in the chromatin of this plant?

39. Although highly repetitive DNA is common in eukaryotic chromosomes, it does not code for proteins; in fact, it is probably never transcribed into RNA. If highly repetitive DNA does not code for RNA or proteins, why is it present in eukaryotic genomes? Suggest some possible reasons for the widespread presence of highly repetitive DNA.

40. As discussed in the chapter, Alu sequences are retrotransposons that are common in the human genome. Alu sequences are thought to have evolved from the 7S RNA gene, which encodes an RNA molecule that takes part in transporting newly synthesized proteins across the endoplasmic reticulum. The 7S RNA gene is transcribed by RNA polymerase III, which uses an internal promoter

(see Chapter 13). How might this observation explain the large number of copies of Alu sequences?

41. Houck and Kidwell proposed that P elements were carried from Drosophila willistoni to D. melanogaster by mites that fed on fruit flies. What evidence do you think would be required to demonstrate that D. melanogaster acquired

P elements in this way? Propose a series of experiments to provide such evidence.

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