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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Feb 17;95(4):1647-52.

Abundant microsatellite polymorphism in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and the different distributions of microsatellites in eight prokaryotes and S. cerevisiae, result from strong mutation pressures and a variety of selective forces.

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Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0116, USA.


We examined the distributions of short tandemly repeated DNAs (microsatellites) in nine complete microbial genomes (Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Archaeoglobus fulgidus, Escherichia coli, Haemophilus influenzae, Helicobacter pylori, Methanococcus jannaschii, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, M. genitalium, and Synechocystis PCC6803.) These repeats contribute differently to the global features of these genomes, and we explore the evolutionary implications of these differences by empirical examination of length polymorphisms at 20 long triplet-repeats repeats in S. cerevisiae, and by comparison of observed and expected repeat distributions. All of a sample of 20 microsatellites found in S. cerevisiae are highly polymorphic in length, suggesting that mutation pressure overcomes overall selection for small genome size that will tend to shorten or eliminate unnecessary DNA. By comparison, prokaryotes have fewer long repeats than expected, except for a few statistically improbable repeats that appear to function in gene regulation. Finally, we find that in all these genomes there is an excess of repeats shorter than those traditionally considered to be microsatellites. This finding suggests that even in prokaryotes these repeats are being generated by mutational pressures. These results have important potential implications for understanding genome stability and evolution in these microbial species.

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