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J Biomol Struct Dyn. 1998 Oct;16(2):329-39.

Comparison of experimental to MELTSIM calculated DNA melting of the (A+T) rich Dictyostelium discoideum genome: denaturation maps distinguish exons from introns.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Massachusetts, Lowell 01854, USA. Kenneth_Marx@uml.edu


The slime mold, Dictyostelium discoideum, possesses an (A+T) rich eukaryotic genome that is being sequenced in the Human Genome Project. High resolution melting curves of isolated total and fractionated nuclear D. discoideum DNA(AX3 strain) were determined experimentally and are compared to melting curves calculated from GENBANK sequences (1.59% of genome) by the statistical thermodynamics program MELTSIM (1), parameterized for long DNA sequences (2,3). The lower and upper temperature limits of calculated melting agree well with the observed melting of total DNA. The experimental curve is unusual in that it contains a number of sharp peaks. MELTSIM allowed us to calculate positional denaturation maps of D. discoideum GENBANK sequence documents containing the 26S, 5.8S and 17S rDNA gene sequences, a major satellite DNA and repetitive sequence family present in 100-200 copies/nucleus. These denaturation maps contain subtransitions that correspond with a number of the experimentally observed peaks, some of which we show to correspond with rDNA gene enriched CsCl gradient fractions of D. discoideum DNA. MELTSIM calculated curves of coding, intron and flanking sequences indicate that both intron and flanking sequences are extremely (A+T) rich and account for most of the low temperature melting. There is no temperature overlap between thermal stabilities of these sequence domains and those of coding DNA. The latter must satisfy triplet codon constraints of higher (G+C) content. These large stability property differences enable a denaturation mapping feature of MELTSIM to clearly distinguish exon positions from those of introns and flanking DNA in long D. discoideum gene containing sequences.

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