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REVIEW: The Problem of the Eukaryotic Genome Size

L. I. Patrushev1* and I. G. Minkevich2

1Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Miklukho-Maklaya 16/10, 117997 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: patrush@mx.ibch.ru

2Skryabin Institute of Biochemistry and Physiology of Microorganisms, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Moscow Region, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received August 13, 2007; Revision received August 19, 2008
The current state of knowledge concerning the unsolved problem of the huge interspecific eukaryotic genome size variations not correlating with the species phenotypic complexity (C-value enigma also known as C-value paradox) is reviewed. Characteristic features of eukaryotic genome structure and molecular mechanisms that are the basis of genome size changes are examined in connection with the C-value enigma. It is emphasized that endogenous mutagens, including reactive oxygen species, create a constant nuclear environment where any genome evolves. An original quantitative model and general conception are proposed to explain the C-value enigma. In accordance with the theory, the noncoding sequences of the eukaryotic genome provide genes with global and differential protection against chemical mutagens and (in addition to the anti-mutagenesis and DNA repair systems) form a new, third system that protects eukaryotic genetic information. The joint action of these systems controls the spontaneous mutation rate in coding sequences of the eukaryotic genome. It is hypothesized that the genome size is inversely proportional to functional efficiency of the anti-mutagenesis and/or DNA repair systems in a particular biological species. In this connection, a model of eukaryotic genome evolution is proposed.
KEY WORDS: C-value paradox, genome size, genome evolution, coding sequences, non-coding sequences, gene protection

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297908130117