We compared levels of sequence divergence between fourfold synonymous coding sites and noncoding sites from the intergenic and intronic regions of the Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium reichenowi genomes. We observed significant differences in the level of divergence between these classes of silent sites. Fourfold synonymous coding sites exhibited the highest level of sequence divergence, followed by introns, and then intergenic sequences. This pattern of relative divergence rates has been observed in primate genomes but was unexpected in Plasmodium due to a paucity of variation at silent sites in P. falciparum and the corollary hypothesis that silent sites in this genome may be subject to atypical selective constraints. Exclusion of hypermutable CpG dinucleotides reduces the divergence level of synonymous coding sites to that of intergenic sites but does not diminish the significantly higher divergence level of introns relative to intergenic sites. A greater than expected incidence of CpG dinucleotides in intergenic regions less than 500 bp from genes may indicate selective maintenance of regulatory motifs containing CpGs. Divergence rates of different classes of silent sites in these Plasmodium genomes are determined by a combination of mutational and selective pressures.
Neafsey, Daniel EHartl, Daniel LBerriman, MattengGM61351/GM/NIGMS NIH HHS/Research Support, N.I.H., ExtramuralResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.2005/04/29 09:00Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Jul;22(7):1621-6. Epub 2005 Apr 27.