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BMC Genomics  2005 

GC-compositional strand bias around transcription start sites in plants and fungi

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-6-26

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Our study confirmed a significant GC-skew (C > G) in the TSS of Oryza sativa (rice) genes. The full-length cDNAs and genomic sequences from Arabidopsis and rice were compared using statistical analyses. Despite marked differences in the G+C content around the TSS in the two plants, the degrees of bias were almost identical. Although slight GC-skew peaks, including opposite skews (C < G), were detected around the TSS of genes in human and Drosophila, they were qualitatively and quantitatively different from those identified in plants. However, plant-like GC-skew in regions upstream of the translation initiation sites (TIS) in some fungi was identified following analyses of the expressed sequence tags and/or genomic sequences from other species. On the basis of our dataset, we estimated that >70 and 68% of Arabidopsis and rice genes, respectively, had a strong GC-skew (>0.33) in a 100-bp window (that is, the number of C residues was more than double the number of G residues in a +/-100-bp window around the TSS). The mean GC-skew value in the TSS of highly-expressed genes in Arabidopsis was significantly greater than that of genes with low expression levels. Many of the GC-skew peaks were preferentially located near the TSS, so we examined the potential value of GC-skew as an index for TSS identification. Our results confirm that the GC-skew can be used to assist the TSS prediction in plant genomes.The GC-skew (C > G) around the TSS is strictly conserved between monocot and eudicot plants (ie. angiosperms in general), and a similar skew has been observed in some fungi. Highly-expressed Arabidopsis genes had overall a more marked GC-skew in the TSS compared to genes with low expression levels. We therefore propose that the GC-skew around the TSS in some plants and fungi is related to transcription. It might be caused by mutations during transcription initiation or the frequent use of transcription factor-biding sites having a strand preference. In addition, GC-skew is a


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