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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2007;116(3):167-72.

Isochores and replication time zones: a perfect match.

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  • 1Institut fur Humangenetik, Universitat Ulm, Ulm, Germany. claudia.schmegner@uni-ulm.de


The mammalian genome is not a random sequence but shows a specific, evolutionarily conserved structure that becomes manifest in its isochore pattern. Isochores, i.e. stretches of DNA with a distinct sequence composition and thus a specific GC content, cause the chromosomal banding pattern. This fundamental level of genome organization is related to several functional features like the replication timing of a DNA sequence. GC richness of genomic regions generally corresponds to an early replication time during S phase. Recently, we demonstrated this interdependency on a molecular level for an abrupt transition from a GC-poor isochore to a GC-rich one in the NF1 gene region; this isochore boundary also separates late from early replicating chromatin. Now, we analyzed another genomic region containing four isochores separated by three sharp isochore transitions. Again, the GC-rich isochores were found to be replicating early, the GC-poor isochores late in S phase; one of the replication time zones was discovered to consist of one single replicon. At the boundaries between isochores, that all show no special sequence elements, the replication machinery stopped for several hours. Thus, our results emphasize the importance of isochores as functional genomic units, and of isochore transitions as genomic landmarks with a key function for chromosome organization and basic biological properties.

Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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