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Genetics. 1993 Mar;133(3):455-68.

Molecular evolution of the Escherichia coli chromosome. IV. Sequence comparisons.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242-1324.


DNA sequences have been compared in a 4,400-bp region for Escherichia coli K12 and 36 ECOR strains. Discontinuities in degree of similarity, previously inferred, are confirmed in detail. Three clonal frames are described on the basis of the present local high-resolution data, as well as previous analyses of restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) and of multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE) covering small regions more widely dispersed on the chromosome. These three approaches show important consistency. The data illustrate the fact that, in the limited context of intraspecific genomic sequence variation, clonality and homology are synonymous. Two estimable quantitative properties are defined: recency of common ancestry (the reciprocal of the log10 of the number of generations since the most recent common ancestor), and the number of nucleotide pairs over which a given recency of common ancestry applies. In principle, these parameters are measures of the degree and physical extent of homology. The small size of apparent recombinational replacements, together with the observation that they occasionally occur in discontinuous series, raises the question of whether they result from the superimposition of replacements of much larger size (as expected from an elementary interpretation of conjugation and transduction in experimental E. coli systems) or via an alternative mechanism. Length polymorphisms of several sorts are described.

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