Fidelity of conversion

The context in which concepts of conversion are related to immunological phenomena (at least in chicken and sheep B cell diversification) apparently requires that the conversion mechanism involved is imprecise. Almost all the experiences of those working with recombination in meiotic cells, somatic cells or prokaryotes is that conversion is extremely precise. The ends of the converted length are correctly placed so that there is neither addition nor deletion and no novel substitution mutations are found within the converted length. Exceptions of which we are aware include detection of low frequency mutations associated with recombination in E. coli and yeast, which have been attributed to errors during DNA synthesis associated with recombination (discussed below). However, mammalian ligase activity does make nonsequence-specific joints and so could account for the observed imprecision. Conversely, since this apparent imprecision was deduced by sequencing recipients of conversion and potential donor sequences in chicken, it is possible that those changes attributed to nontemplated mutations arise by precise conversion from pseudogenes or small partial gene homologies in as yet unsequenced regions. A third possibility is that vertebrate cells may also make DNA synthesis errors associated with recombination.

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