Gene order evolution in two eukaryotes was studied by comparing the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome sequence to extensive new data from whole-genome shotgun and cosmid sequencing of Candida albicans. Gene order is substantially different between these two yeasts, with only 9% of gene pairs that are adjacent in one species being conserved as adjacent in the other. Inversion of small segments of DNA, less than 10 genes long, has been a major cause of rearrangement, which means that even where a pair of genes has been conserved as adjacent, the transcriptional orientations of the two genes relative to one another are often different. We estimate that about 1,100 single-gene inversions have occurred since the divergence between these species. Other genes that are adjacent in one species are in the same neighborhood in the other, but their precise arrangement has been disrupted, probably by multiple successive multigene inversions. We estimate that gene adjacencies have been broken as frequently by local rearrangements as by chromosomal translocations or long-distance transpositions. A bias toward small inversions has been suggested by other studies on animals and plants and may be general among eukaryotes
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