The distribution of genes in the human genome

Gene. 1991 Apr;100:181-7. doi: 10.1016/0378-1119(91)90364-h.


Previous investigations on the human genome determined: (i) the base compositions (GC levels) and the relative amounts of its isochore families; (ii) the compositional correlations (i.e., the correlations between GC levels) between third codon positions of a set of genes and the DNA fractions in which the genes were localized; and (iii) the compositional correlations between (a) third and first + second codon positions, as well as that between (b) introns and exons from the set of 'localized genes' and from all the coding sequences and genes (genomic sequences of exons + introns) available in gene banks. Here, we have shown that the correlations (iii, a and b) for 'localized genes' and genes from the bank are in full agreement, indicating that the former set is representative of the latter. We have then used the data (i) and the correlation (ii) to estimate the distribution of genes in isochore families. We have found that 34% of the genes are located in the GC-poor isochores (which represent 62% of the genome), 38% in the GC-rich isochores (31% of the genome) and 28% in the GC-richest isochores (3% of the genome). There is, therefore, a compositional gradient of gene concentration in the human genome. The gene density in the GC-richest 3% of the genome is about eight times higher than in the GC-rich 31%, and about 16 times higher than in the GC-poorest 62%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Composition
  • Codon
  • Exons
  • Genes*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Introns
  • Models, Genetic


  • Codon