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Evolution of Replication Origins in Vertebrate Genomes: Rapid Turnover Despite Selective Constraints.

By Florian Massip, Marc Laurent, Caroline Brossas, José Miguel Fernández-Justel, María Gómez, Marie-Noelle Prioleau, Laurent Duret, Franck Picardb

Posted 10 Sep 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/411470 (published DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkz182)

Background: The replication programme of vertebrate genomes is driven by the chromosomal distribution and timing of activation of tens of thousands of replication origins. Genome-wide studies have shown the frequent association of origins with promoters and CpG islands, and their enrichment in G-quadruplex sequence motifs (G4). However, the genetic determinants driving their activity remain poorly understood. To gain insight on the functional constraints operating on replication origins and their spatial distribution, we conducted the first evolutionary comparison of genome-wide origins maps across vertebrates. Results: We generated a high resolution genome-wide map of chicken replication origins (the first of a bird genome), and performed an extensive comparison with human and mouse maps. The analysis of intra-species polymorphism revealed a strong depletion of genetic diversity on an ~ 40 bp region centred on the replication initiation loci. Surprisingly, this depletion in genetic diversity was not linked to the presence of G4 motifs, nor to the association with promoters or CpG islands. In contrast, we also showed that origins experienced a rapid turnover during vertebrates evolution, since pairwise comparisons of origin maps revealed that only 4 to 24% of them were conserved between any two species. Conclusions: This study unravels the existence of a novel genetic determinant of replication origins, the precise functional role of which remains to be determined. Despite the importance of replication initiation activity for the fitness of organisms, the distribution of replication origins along vertebrate chromosomes is highly flexible.

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