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Genome Res. 2003 Feb;13(2):145-58.

Evolutionary implications of microbial genome tetranucleotide frequency biases.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37235, USA. Prided01@med.nyu.edu


We compared nucleotide usage pattern conservation for related prokaryotes by examining the representation of DNA tetranucleotide combinations in 27 representative microbial genomes. For each of the organisms studied, tetranucleotide usage departures from expectations (TUD) were shared between related organisms using both Markov chain analysis and a zero-order Markov method. Individual strains, multiple chromosomes, plasmids, and bacteriophages share TUDs within a species. TUDs varied between coding and noncoding DNA. Grouping prokaryotes based on TUD profiles resulted in relationships with important differences from those based on 16S rRNA phylogenies, which may reflect unequal rates of evolution of nucleotide usage patterns following divergence of particular organisms from a common ancestor. By both symmetrical tree distance and likelihood analysis, phylogenetic trees based on TUD profiles demonstrate a level of congruence with 16S rRNA trees similar to that of both RpoA and RecA trees. Congruence of these trees indicates that there exists phylogenetic signal in TUD patterns, most prominent in coding region DNA. Because relationships demonstrated in TUD-based analyses utilize whole genomes, they should be considered complementary to phylogenies based on single genetic elements, such as 16S rRNA.

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