Biological implications of isochore boundaries in the human genome

J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2008 Feb;25(4):327-36. doi: 10.1080/07391102.2008.10507181.


The human genome is composed of large sequence segments with fairly homogeneous GC content, namely isochores, which have been linked to many important functions; biological implications of most isochore boundaries, however, remain elusive, partly due to the difficulty in determining these boundaries at high resolution. Using the segmentation algorithm based on the quadratic divergence, we re-determined all 79 boundaries of previously identified human isochores at single-nucleotide resolution, and then compared the boundary coordinates with other genome features. We found that 55.7% of isochore boundaries coincide with termini of repeat elements; 45.6% of isochore boundaries coincide with termini of highly conserved sequences based on alignment of 17 vertebrate genomes, i.e., the highly conserved genome sequence switches to a less or non-conserved one at the isochore boundary; some isochore boundaries coincide with abrupt change of CpG island distribution (note that one boundary can associate with more than one genome feature). In addition, sequences around isochore boundaries are highly conserved. It seems reasonable to deduce that the boundaries of all the isochores studied here would be replication timing sites in the human genome. These results suggest possible key roles of the isochore boundaries and may further our understanding of the human genome organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Composition / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Conserved Sequence / genetics
  • GC Rich Sequence / genetics
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Isochores / genetics*
  • Isochores / physiology
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics


  • Isochores