Human and mouse introns are linked to the same processes and functions through each genome's most frequent non-conserved motifs

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Abstract

We identified the most frequent, variable-length DNA sequence motifs in the human and mouse genomes and sub-selected those with multiple recurrences in the intergenic and intronic regions and at least one additional exonic instance in the corresponding genome. We discovered that these motifs have virtually no overlap with intronic sequences that are conserved between human and mouse, and thus are genome-specific. Moreover, we found that these motifs span a substantial fraction of previously uncharacterized human and mouse intronic space. Surprisingly, we found that these genome-specific motifs are over-represented in the introns of genes belonging to the same biological processes and molecular functions in both the human and mouse genomes even though the underlying sequences are not conserved between the two genomes. In fact, the processes and functions that are linked to these genome-specific sequence-motifs are distinct from the processes and functions which are associated with intronic regions that are conserved between human and mouse. The findings show that intronic regions from different genomes are linked to the same processes and functions in the absence of underlying sequence conservation. We highlight the ramifications of this observation with a concrete example that involves the microsatellite instability gene MLH1.

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