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Cell Rep. 2012 Jan 26;1(1):36-42. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2011.10.003. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

Mutation hot spots in yeast caused by long-range clustering of homopolymeric sequences.

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Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Evolutionary theory assumes that mutations occur randomly in the genome; however, studies performed in a variety of organisms indicate the existence of context-dependent mutation biases. Sources of mutagenesis variation across large genomic contexts (e.g., hundreds of bases) have not been identified. Here, we use high-coverage whole-genome sequencing of a conditional mismatch repair mutant line of diploid yeast to identify mutations that accumulated after 160 generations of growth. The vast majority of the mutations accumulated as insertion/deletions (in/dels) in homopolymeric [poly(dA:dT)] and repetitive DNA tracts. Surprisingly, the likelihood of an in/del mutation in a given poly(dA:dT) tract is increased by the presence of nearby poly(dA:dT) tracts in up to a 1,000 bp region centered on the given tract. Our work suggests that specific mutation hot spots can contribute disproportionately to the genetic variation that is introduced into populations and provides long-range genomic sequence context that contributes to mutagenesis.

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