Genomic heterogeneity of background substitutional patterns in Drosophila melanogaster

Genetics. 2005 Feb;169(2):709-22. doi: 10.1534/genetics.104.032250. Epub 2004 Nov 1.


Mutation is the underlying force that provides the variation upon which evolutionary forces can act. It is important to understand how mutation rates vary within genomes and how the probabilities of fixation of new mutations vary as well. If substitutional processes across the genome are heterogeneous, then examining patterns of coding sequence evolution without taking these underlying variations into account may be misleading. Here we present the first rigorous test of substitution rate heterogeneity in the Drosophila melanogaster genome using almost 1500 nonfunctional fragments of the transposable element DNAREP1_DM. Not only do our analyses suggest that substitutional patterns in heterochromatic and euchromatic sequences are different, but also they provide support in favor of a recombination-associated substitutional bias toward G and C in this species. The magnitude of this bias is entirely sufficient to explain recombination-associated patterns of codon usage on the autosomes of the D. melanogaster genome. We also document a bias toward lower GC content in the pattern of small insertions and deletions (indels). In addition, the GC content of noncoding DNA in Drosophila is higher than would be predicted on the basis of the pattern of nucleotide substitutions and small indels. However, we argue that the fast turnover of noncoding sequences in Drosophila makes it difficult to assess the importance of the GC biases in nucleotide substitutions and small indels in shaping the base composition of noncoding sequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Composition
  • Base Pairing
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Codon
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Euchromatin / chemistry
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Heterogeneity*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome*
  • Heterochromatin / chemistry
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • Codon
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Euchromatin
  • Heterochromatin