Filler DNA is associated with spontaneous deletions in maize

Susan Wessler, Alacia Tarpley, Michael Purugganan, Marion Spell, Ron Okagaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have determined the structure of five spontaneous deletions within the maize waxy (Wx) gene. Of these, four were found in spontaneous wx mutants (wx-B, wx-B1, wx-B6, wx-C4) and include exon sequences; the fifth is restricted to an intron and represents a restriction fragment length polymorphism of a nonmutant allele (Wx-W23). The deletions, which range in size from 60 to 980 base pairs (bp), cluster in a G+C-rich region of ≈1000 bp that is capable of forming stable secondary structures. Most striking is our finding that all of the alleles have DNA insertions (filler DNA) of 1-131 bp between the deletion endpoints. For three of the five deletions, the filler DNA and sequences at the deletion termini appear to be derived from sequences near one deletion endpoint. A previously reported spontaneous deletion of the maize bronze gene (bz-R) also contains filler DNA. The association of filler DNA with maize deletion endpoints contrasts dramatically with the rarity of similar events in animal germ-line and bacterial mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8731-8735
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 1990


  • Mutation
  • Restriction fragment length polymorphism
  • Waxy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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