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Periodicity of DNA in exons

Author(s): Eskesen Stephen | Eskesen Frank | Kinghorn Brian | Ruvinsky Anatoly

Journal: BMC Molecular Biology
ISSN 1471-2199

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 12;
Date: 2004;
Original page

Keywords: Codon usage | DNA periodicity | simulated sequences | evolutionary algorithm

Abstract Background The periodic pattern of DNA in exons is a known phenomenon. It was suggested that one of the initial causes of periodicity could be the universal (RNY)npattern (R = A or G, Y = C or U, N = any base) of ancient RNA. Two major questions were addressed in this paper. Firstly, the cause of DNA periodicity, which was investigated by comparisons between real and simulated coding sequences. Secondly, quantification of DNA periodicity was made using an evolutionary algorithm, which was not previously used for such purposes. Results We have shown that simulated coding sequences, which were composed using codon usage frequencies only, demonstrate DNA periodicity very similar to the observed in real exons. It was also found that DNA periodicity disappears in the simulated sequences, when the frequencies of codons become equal. Frequencies of the nucleotides (and the dinucleotide AG) at each location along phase 0 exons were calculated for C. elegans, D. melanogaster and H. sapiens. Two models were used to fit these data, with the key objective of describing periodicity. Both of the models showed that the best-fit curves closely matched the actual data points. The first dynamic period determination model consistently generated a value, which was very close to the period equal to 3 nucleotides. The second fixed period model, as expected, kept the period exactly equal to 3 and did not detract from its goodness of fit. Conclusions Conclusion can be drawn that DNA periodicity in exons is determined by codon usage frequencies. It is essential to differentiate between DNA periodicity itself, and the length of the period equal to 3. Periodicity itself is a result of certain combinations of codons with different frequencies typical for a species. The length of period equal to 3, instead, is caused by the triplet nature of genetic code. The models and evolutionary algorithm used for characterising DNA periodicity are proven to be an effective tool for describing the periodicity pattern in a species, when a number of exons in the same phase are analysed.
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