Journal Article Evolutionary Footprints of Short Tandem Repeats in Avian Promoters

Abe, Hideaki  ,  Gemmell, Neil J.

62016-01-14 , Nature Publishing Group
Short tandem repeats (STRs) or microsatellites are well-known sequence elements that may change the spacing between transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) in promoter regions by expansion or contraction of repetitive units. Some of these mutations have the potential to contribute to phenotypic diversity by altering patterns of gene expression. To explore how repetitive sequence motifs within promoters have evolved in avian lineages under mutation-selection balance, more than 400 evolutionary conserved STRs (ecSTRs) were identified in this study by comparing the 2 kb upstream promoter sequences of chicken against those of other birds (Turkey, duck, zebra finch, and flycatcher). The rate of conservation was significantly higher in AG dinucleotide repeats than in AC or AT repeats, with the expansion of AG motifs being noticeably constrained in passerines. Analysis of the relative distance between ecSTRs and TFBSs revealed a significantly higher rate of conserved TFBSs in the vicinity of ecSTRs in both chicken-duck and chicken-passerine comparisons. Our comparative study provides a novel insight into which intrinsic factors have influenced the degree of constraint on repeat expansion/contraction during avian promoter evolution.

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