Nucleotide sequence heterogeneity of alpha satellite repetitive DNA: a survey of alphoid sequences from different human chromosomes
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The human alpha satellite DNA family is composed of diverse, tandemly reiterated monomer units of approximately 171 basepairs localized to the centromeric region of each chromosome. These sequences are organized in a highly chromosome-specific manner with many, if not all human chromosomes being characterized by individually distinct alphoid subsets. Here, we compare the nucleotide sequences of 153 monomer units, representing alphoid components of at least 12 different human chromosomes. Based on the analysis of sequence variation at each position within the 171 basepair monomer, we have derived a consensus sequence for the monomer unit of human alpha satellite DNA which we suggest may reflect the monomer sequence from which different chromosomal subsets have evolved. Sequence heterogeneity is evident at each position within the consensus monomer unit and there are no positions of strict nucleotide sequence conservation, although some regions are more variable than others. A substantial proportion of the overall sequence variation may be accounted for by nucleotide changes which are characteristic of monomer components of individual chromosomal subsets or groups of subsets which have a common evolutionary history.
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