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Mol Biol Evol. 2000 Sep;17(9):1371-83.

Cytosine deamination plays a primary role in the evolution of mammalian isochores.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia 22030, USA. kfryxell@gmu.edu

Abstract

DNA melting is rate-limiting for cytosine deamination, from which we infer that the rate of cytosine deamination should decline twofold for each 10% increase in GC content. Analysis of human DNA sequence data confirms that this is the case for 5-methylcytosine. Several lines of evidence further confirm that it is also the case for unmethylated cytosine and that cytosine deamination causes the majority of all C-->T and G-->A transitions in mammals. Thus, cytosine deamination and DNA base composition each affect the other, forming a positive feedback loop that facilitates divergent genetic drift to high or low GC content. Because a 10 degrees C increase in temperature in vitro increases the rate of cytosine deamination 5. 7-fold, cytosine deamination must be highly dependent on body temperature, which is consistent with the dramatic differences between the isochores of warm-blooded versus cold-blooded vertebrates. Because this process involves both DNA melting and positive feedback, it would be expected to spread progressively (in evolutionary time) down the length of the chromosome, which is consistent with the large size of isochores in modern mammals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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