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Genetics. Jun 1999; 152(2): 617–627.
PMCID: PMC1460615

Evidence for complex mutations at microsatellite loci in Drosophila.


Fifteen lines each of Drosophila melanogaster, D. simulans, and D. sechellia were scored for 19 microsatellite loci. One to four alleles of each locus in each species were sequenced, and microsatellite variability was compared with sequence structure. Only 7 loci had their size variation among species consistent with the occurrence of strictly stepwise mutations in the repeat array, the others showing extensive variability in the flanking region compared to that within the microsatellite itself. Polymorphisms apparently resulting from complex nonstepwise mutations involving the microsatellite were also observed, both within and between species. Maximum number of perfect repeats and variance of repeat count were found to be strongly correlated in microsatellites showing an apparently stepwise mutation pattern. These data indicate that many microsatellite mutation events are more complex than represented even by generalized stepwise mutation models. Care should therefore be taken in inferring population or phylogenetic relationships from microsatellite size data alone. The analysis also indicates, however, that evaluation of sequence structure may allow selection of microsatellites that more closely match the assumptions of stepwise models.

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