Association between divergence and interspersed repeats in mammalian noncoding genomic DNA

Francesca Chiaromonte, Shan Yang, Laura Elnitski, Von Bing Yap, Webb Miller, Ross C. Hardison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The amount of noncoding genomic DNA sequence that aligns between human and mouse varies substantially in different regions of their genomes, and the amount of repetitive DNA also varies. In this report, we show that divergence in noncoding nonrepetitive DNA is strongly correlated with the amount of repetitive DNA in a region. We investigated aligned DNA in four large genomic regions with finished human sequence and almost or completely finished mouse sequence. These regions, totaling 5.89 Mb of DNA, are on different chromosomes and vary in their base composition. An analysis based on sliding windows of 10 kb shows that the fraction of aligned noncoding nonrepetitive DNA and the fraction of repetitive DNA are negatively correlated, both at the level of an entire region and locally within it. This conclusion is strongly supported by a randomization study, in which repetitive elements are removed and randomly relocated along the sequences. Thus, regions of noncoding genomic DNA that accumulated fewer point mutations since the primaterodent divergence also suffered fewer retrotransposition events. These results indicate that some regions of the genome are more "flexible" over the time scale of mammalian evolution, being able to accommodate many point mutations and insertions, whereas other regions are more "rigid" and accumulate fewer changes. Stronger conservation is generally interpreted as indicating more extensive or more important function. The evidence presented here of correlated variation in the rates of different evolutionary processes across noncoding DNA must be considered in assessing such conservation for evidence of selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14503-14508
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number25
StatePublished - Dec 4 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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