Structure of DNA near long tandem arrays of alpha satellite DNA at the centromere of human chromosome 7.
The centromeric regions of human chromosomes contain long tracts of tandemly repeated DNA, of which the most extensively characterized is alpha satellite. In a screen for additional centromeric DNA sequences, four phage clones were obtained which contain alpha satellite as well as other sequences not usually found associated with tandemly repeated alpha satellite DNA, including L1 repetitive elements, an Alu element, and a novel AT-rich repeated sequence. The alpha satellite DNA contained within these clones does not demonstrate the higher-order repeat structure typical of tandemly repeated alpha satellite. Two of the clones contain inversions; instead of the usual head-to-tail arrangement of alpha satellite monomers, the direction of the monomers changes partway through each clone. The presence of both inversions was confirmed in human genomic DNA by polymerase chain reaction amplification of the inverted regions. One phage clone contains a junction between alpha satellite DNA and a novel low-copy repeated sequence. The junction between the two types of DNA is abrupt and the junction sequence is characterized by the presence of runs of A's and T's, yielding an overall base composition of 65% AT with local areas > 80% AT. The AT-rich sequence is found in multiple copies on chromosome 7 and homologous sequences are found in (peri)centromeric locations on other human chromosomes, including chromosomes 1, 2, and 16. As such, the AT-rich sequence adjacent to alpha satellite DNA provides a tool for the further study of the DNA from this region of the chromosome. The phage clones examined are located within the same 3.3-Mb SstII restriction fragment on chromosome 7 as the two previously described alpha satellite arrays, D7Z1 and D7Z2. These new clones demonstrate that centromeric repetitive DNA, at least on chromosome 7, may be more heterogeneous in composition and organization than had previously been thought.
Wevrick, R; Willard, VP; Willard, HF
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