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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58295. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058295. Epub 2013 Mar 5.

H2A.Z nucleosome positioning has no impact on genetic variation in Drosophila genome.

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Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital, Department of Bioinformatics, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Signaling and Disease Research, The School of Life Sciences and Technology, Tongji University, Shanghai, China.


Nucleosome occupancy results in complex sequence variation rate heterogeneity by either increasing mutation rate or inhibiting DNA repair in yeast, fish, and human. H2A.Z nucleosome is extensively involved in gene transcription activation and regulation. To test whether H2A.Z nucleosome has the similar impact on sequence variability in the Drosophila genome, we profiled the H2A.Z nucleosome occupancy and sequence variation rate at gene ends and splicing sites. Consistent with previous studies, H2A.Z nucleosome positioning helps to demarcate the borders of exons. Nucleosome occupancy is anticorrelated with sequence divergence rate in the regions flanking transcription start sites and splicing sites. However, there is no rate heterogeneity between the linker DNA and H2A.Z nucleosomal DNA regardless of nucleosome occupancy, fuzziness, positioning in promoter, coding, and intergenic regions, young or old genes. But the rate at intergenic nucleosomes and the flanking linker regions is higher than that at the genic counterparts. Further analyses found that the high sequence divergence rate in the promoter regions that are usually nucleosome depleted regions may be likely resulted from the high mutation rate in the enriched tandem repeats. Interestingly, within nucleosomes spanning splicing sites, sequence variability of nucleosomal DNA significantly increases from the end within exons to the other end protruding into introns. The relaxed functional constraint in introns contributes to the high rate of nucleosomal DNA residing in introns while the strict functional constraint in exons maintains the low rate of nucleosomal DNA residing in exons. Taken together, H2A.Z nucleosome occupancy has no effect on sequence variability of Drosophila genome, which is likely determined by local sequence composition and the concomitant selection pressure.

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