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Genomics. 2007 Sep;90(3):364-71. Epub 2007 Jun 21.

Isochore patterns and gene distributions in fish genomes.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Evolution, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, 80121 Naples, Italy.


The compositional approach developed in our laboratory many years ago revealed a large-scale compositional heterogeneity in vertebrate genomes, in which GC-rich and GC-poor regions, the isochores, were found to be characterized by high and low gene densities, respectively. Here we mapped isochores on fish chromosomes and assessed gene densities in isochore families. Because of the availability of sequence data, we have concentrated our investigations on four species, zebrafish (Brachydanio rerio), medaka (Oryzias latipes), stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), and pufferfish (Tetraodon nigroviridis), which belong to four distant orders and cover almost the entire GC range of fish genomes. These investigations produced isochore maps that were drastically different not only from those of mammals (in that only two major isochore families were essentially present in each genome vs five in the human genome) but also from each other (in that different isochore families were represented in different genomes). Gene density distributions for these fish genomes were also obtained and shown to follow the expected increase with increasing isochore GC. Finally, we discovered a remarkable conservation of the average size of the isochores (which match replicon clusters in the case of human chromosomes) and of the average GC levels of isochore families in both fish and human genomes. Moreover, in each genome the GC-poorest isochore families comprised a group of "long isochores" (2-20 Mb in size), which were the lowest in GC and varied in size distribution and relative amount from one genome to the other.

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