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Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Aug;21(8):1538-47. Epub 2004 May 12.

Male-biased mutation rate and divergence in autosomal, z-linked and w-linked introns of chicken and Turkey.

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Department of Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Sweden.


To investigate mutation-rate variation between autosomes and sex chromosomes in the avian genome, we have analyzed divergence between chicken (Gallus gallus) and turkey (Meleagris galopavo) sequences from 33 autosomal, 28 Z-linked, and 14 W-linked introns with a total ungapped alignment length of approximately 43,000 bp. There are pronounced differences in the mean divergence among autosomes and sex chromosomes (autosomes [A] = 10.08%, Z chromosome = 10.99%, and W chromosome = 5.74%), and we use these data to estimate the male-to-female mutation-rate ratio (alpha(m)) from Z/A, Z/W, and A/W comparisons at 1.71, 2.37, and 2.52, respectively. Because the alpha(m) estimates of the three comparisons do not differ significantly, we find no statistical support for a specific reduction in the Z chromosome mutation rate (Z reduction estimated at 4.89%, P = 0.286). The idea of mutation-rate reduction in the sex chromosome hemizygous in one sex (i.e., X in mammals, Z in birds) has been suggested on the basis of theory on adaptive mutation-rate evolution. If it exists in birds, the effect would, thus, seem to be weak; a preliminary power analysis suggests that it is significantly less than 18%. Because divergence may vary within chromosomal classes as a result of variation in mutation and/or selection, we developed a novel double-bootstrapping method, bootstrapping both by introns and sites from concatenated alignments, to estimate confidence intervals for chromosomal class rates and for alpha(m). The narrowest interval for the alpha(m) estimate is 1.88 to 2.97 from the Z/W comparison. We also estimated alpha(m) using maximum likelihood on data from all three chromosome classes; this method yielded alpha(m) = 2.47 and approximate 95% confidence intervals of 2.27 to 2.68. Our data are broadly consistent with the idea that mutation-rate differences between chromosomal classes can be explained by the male mutation bias alone.

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