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FEBS Lett. 1996 Jul 15;390(1):99-103.

The size differences among mammalian introns are due to the accumulation of small deletions.

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Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, Japan.


In order to investigate the molecular mechanisms that alter intron size, we conducted an extensive interspecies comparison of homologous introns among three mammalian groups: human, artiodactyls, and rodents. The size differences of introns were statistically significant among all three groups (longest intron was for human and shortest for rodents), and appear to be due to the accumulation of small deletions, according to the separate count of insertion and deletion frequencies. The distribution of intron size differences also has a shape similar to that for the distribution of insertion/deletion sizes found in pseudogenes. It is suggested that introns are selectively neutral to small-scale changes of the genome size, which inherently contain the bias of favoring short deletions against short insertions.

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