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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Oct 10; 92(21): 9717–9721.

Neighboring base composition and transversion/transition bias in a comparison of rice and maize chloroplast noncoding regions.


The correspondence between the transversion/transition ratio and the neighboring base composition in chloroplast DNA is examined. For 18 noncoding regions of the chloroplast genome, alignments between rice (Oryza sativa) and maize (Zea mays) were generated by two different methods. Difficulties of aligning noncoding DNA are discussed, and the alignments are analyzed in a manner that reduces alignment artifacts. Sequence divergence is < 10%, so multiple substitutions at a site are assumed to be rare. Observed substitutions were analyzed with respect to the A+T content of the two immediately flanking bases. It is shown that as this content increases, the proportion of transversions also increases. When both the 5'- and 3'-flanking nucleotides are G or C (A+T content of 0), only 25% of the observed substitutions are transversions. However, when both the 5'- and 3'-flanking nucleotides are A or T (A+T content of 2), 57% of the observed substitutions are transversions. Therefore, the influence of flanking base composition on substitutions, previously reported for a single noncoding region, is a general feature of the chloroplast genome.

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