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Open Access Research article

Poly-G/poly-C tracts in the genomes of Caenorhabditis

Yang Zhao, Nigel J O'Neil and Ann M Rose*

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Life Sciences Centre, Room 1364 – 2350 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T1Z3, Canada

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:403  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-403

Published: 7 November 2007

Abstract

Background

In the genome of Caenorhabditis elegans, homopolymeric poly-G/poly-C tracts (G/C tracts) exist at high frequency and are maintained by the activity of the DOG-1 protein. The frequency and distribution of G/C tracts in the genomes of C. elegans and the related nematode, C. briggsae were analyzed to investigate possible biological roles for G/C tracts.

Results

In C. elegans, G/C tracts are distributed along every chromosome in a non-random pattern. Most G/C tracts are within introns or are close to genes. Analysis of SAGE data showed that G/C tracts correlate with the levels of regional gene expression in C. elegans. G/C tracts are over-represented and dispersed across all chromosomes in another Caenorhabditis species, C. briggsae. However, the positions and distribution of G/C tracts in C. briggsae differ from those in C. elegans. Furthermore, the C. briggsae dog-1 ortholog CBG19723 can rescue the mutator phenotype of C. elegans dog-1 mutants.

Conclusion

The abundance and genomic distribution of G/C tracts in C. elegans, the effect of G/C tracts on regional transcription levels, and the lack of positional conservation of G/C tracts in C. briggsae suggest a role for G/C tracts in chromatin structure but not in the transcriptional regulation of specific genes.