A compositional map of human chromosome 21.


GC-poor and GC-rich isochores, the long (greater than 300 kb) compositionally homogeneous DNA segments that form the genome of warm-blooded vertebrates, are located in G- and R-bands respectively of metaphase chromosomes. The precise correspondence between GC-rich isochores and R-band structure is still, however, an open problem, because GC-rich isochores are compositionally heterogeneous and only represent one-third of the genome, with the GC-richest family (which is by far the highest in gene concentration) corresponding to less than 5% of the genome. In order to clarify this issue and, more generally, to correlate DNA composition and chromosomal structure in an unequivocal way, we have developed a new approach, compositional mapping. This consists of assessing the base composition over 0.2-0.3 Mb (megabase) regions surrounding landmarks that were previously localized on the physical map. Compositional mapping was applied here to the long arm of human chromosome 21, using 53 probes that had already been used in physical mapping. The results obtained provide a direct demonstration that the DNA stretches of G-bands essentially correspond to GC-poor isochores, and that R-band DNA is characterized by a compositional heterogeneity that is much more striking than expected, in that it comprises isochores covering the full spectrum of GC levels. GC-poor isochores of R-bands may, however, correspond to 'thin' G-bands, as visualized at high resolution, leaving GC-rich and very GC-rich isochores as the real components of (high-resolution) R-band DNA.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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