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Genomics. 2006 Nov;88(5):527-34. Epub 2006 Jul 24.

Mutational spectrum in the recent human genome inferred by single nucleotide polymorphisms.

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Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298-0126, USA.


So far, there is no genome-wide estimation of the mutational spectrum in humans. In this study, we systematically examined the directionality of the point mutations and maintenance of GC content in the human genome using approximately 1.8 million high-quality human single nucleotide polymorphisms and their ancestral sequences in chimpanzees. The frequency of C-->T (G-->A) changes was the highest among all mutation types and the frequency of each type of transition was approximately fourfold that of each type of transversion. In intergenic regions, when the GC content increased, the frequency of changes from G or C increased. In exons, the frequency of G:C-->A:T was the highest among the genomic categories and contributed mainly by the frequent mutations at the CpG sites. In contrast, mutations at the CpG sites, or CpG-->TpG/CpA mutations, occurred less frequently in the CpG islands relative to intergenic regions with similar GC content. Our results suggest that the GC content is overall not in equilibrium in the human genome, with a trend toward shifting the human genome to be AT rich and shifting the GC content of a region to approach the genome average. Our results, which differ from previous estimates based on limited loci or on the rodent lineage, provide the first representative and reliable mutational spectrum in the recent human genome and categorized genomic regions.

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