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Open Access Research article

Strand bias structure in mouse DNA gives a glimpse of how chromatin structure affects gene expression

Kenneth J Evans

Author affiliations

School of Crystallography, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HX, UK

Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2008, 9:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-16

Published: 14 January 2008

Abstract

Background

On a single strand of genomic DNA the number of As is usually about equal to the number of Ts (and similarly for Gs and Cs), but deviations have been noted for transcribed regions and origins of replication.

Results

The mouse genome is shown to have a segmented structure defined by strand bias. Transcription is known to cause a strand bias and numerous analyses are presented to show that the strand bias in question is not caused by transcription. However, these strand bias segments influence the position of genes and their unspliced length. The position of genes within the strand bias structure affects the probability that a gene is switched on and its expression level. Transcription has a highly directional flow within this structure and the peak volume of transcription is around 20 kb from the A-rich/T-rich segment boundary on the T-rich side, directed away from the boundary. The A-rich/T-rich boundaries are SATB1 binding regions, whereas the T-rich/A-rich boundary regions are not.

Conclusion

The direct cause of the strand bias structure may be DNA replication. The strand bias segments represent a further biological feature, the chromatin structure, which in turn influences the ease of transcription.