Cell 10: 509-19 (1977)
Hybrid plasmid molecules containing tandemly repeated Drosophila satellite DNA were constructed using a modification of the (dA)-(dT) homopolymer procedure of Lobban and Kaiser (1973). Recombinant plasmids recovered after transformation of recA bacteria contained 10% of the amount of satellite DNA present in the transforming molecules. The cloned plasmids were not homogenous in size. Recombinant plasmids isolated from a single colony contained populations of circular molecules which varied both in the length of the satellite region and in the poly(dA)-(dt) regions linking satellite and vector. While subcloning reduced the heterogeneity of these plasmid populations, continued cell growth caused further variations in the size of the repeated regions. Two different simple sequence satellites of Drosophila melanogaster (1.672 and 1.705 g/cm3) were unstable in both recA and recBC hosts and in both pSC101 and pCR1 vectors. We propose that this recA-independent instability of tandemly repeated sequences is due to unequal intramolecular recombination events in replicating DNA molecules, a mechanism analogous to sister chromatid exchange in eucaryotes.