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1.  The Mitochondrial Genome of the Venomous Cone Snail Conus consors 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51528.
Cone snails are venomous predatory marine neogastropods that belong to the species-rich superfamily of the Conoidea. So far, the mitochondrial genomes of two cone snail species (Conus textile and Conus borgesi) have been described, and these feed on snails and worms, respectively. Here, we report the mitochondrial genome sequence of the fish-hunting cone snail Conus consors and describe a novel putative control region (CR) which seems to be absent in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of other cone snail species. This possible CR spans about 700 base pairs (bp) and is located between the genes encoding the transfer RNA for phenylalanine (tRNA-Phe, trnF) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit III (cox3). The novel putative CR contains several sequence motifs that suggest a role in mitochondrial replication and transcription.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051528
PMCID: PMC3517553  PMID: 23236512
2.  Identification and Analysis of Papillomavirus E2 Protein Binding Sites in the Human Genome 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(1):348-357.
Papillomavirus E2 protein is required for the replication and maintenance of viral genomes and transcriptional regulation of viral genes. E2 functions through sequence-specific binding to 12-bp DNA motifs—E2 binding sites (E2BS)—in the virus genome. Papillomaviruses are able to establish persistent infection in their host and have developed a long-term relationship with the host cell in order to guarantee the propagation of the virus. In this study, we have analyzed the occurrence and functionality of E2BSs in the human genome. Our computational analysis indicates that most E2BSs in the human genome are found in repetitive DNA regions and have G/C-rich spacer sequences. Using a chromatin immunoprecipitation approach, we show that human papillomavirus type 11 (HPV11) E2 interacts with a subset of cellular E2BSs located in active chromatin regions. Two E2 activities, sequence-specific DNA binding and interaction with cellular Brd4 protein, are important for E2 binding to consensus sites. E2 binding to cellular E2BSs has a moderate or no effect on cellular transcription. We suggest that the preference of HPV E2 proteins for E2BSs with A/T-rich spacers, which are present in the viral genomes and underrepresented in the human genome, ensures E2 binding to specific binding sites in the virus genome and may help to prevent extensive and possibly detrimental changes in cellular transcription in response to the viral protein.
doi:10.1128/JVI.05606-11
PMCID: PMC3255907  PMID: 22031941
3.  Primer3—new capabilities and interfaces 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(15):e115.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a basic molecular biology technique with a multiplicity of uses, including deoxyribonucleic acid cloning and sequencing, functional analysis of genes, diagnosis of diseases, genotyping and discovery of genetic variants. Reliable primer design is crucial for successful PCR, and for over a decade, the open-source Primer3 software has been widely used for primer design, often in high-throughput genomics applications. It has also been incorporated into numerous publicly available software packages and web services. During this period, we have greatly expanded Primer3’s functionality. In this article, we describe Primer3’s current capabilities, emphasizing recent improvements. The most notable enhancements incorporate more accurate thermodynamic models in the primer design process, both to improve melting temperature prediction and to reduce the likelihood that primers will form hairpins or dimers. Additional enhancements include more precise control of primer placement—a change motivated partly by opportunities to use whole-genome sequences to improve primer specificity. We also added features to increase ease of use, including the ability to save and re-use parameter settings and the ability to require that individual primers not be used in more than one primer pair. We have made the core code more modular and provided cleaner programming interfaces to further ease integration with other software. These improvements position Primer3 for continued use with genome-scale data in the decade ahead.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks596
PMCID: PMC3424584  PMID: 22730293
4.  ConoDictor: a tool for prediction of conopeptide superfamilies 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(Web Server issue):W238-W241.
ConoDictor is a tool that enables fast and accurate classification of conopeptides into superfamilies based on their amino acid sequence. ConoDictor combines predictions from two complementary approaches—profile hidden Markov models and generalized profiles. Results appear in a browser as tables that can be downloaded in various formats. This application is particularly valuable in view of the exponentially increasing number of conopeptides that are being identified. ConoDictor was written in Perl using the common gateway interface module with a php submission page. Sequence matching is performed with hmmsearch from HMMER 3 and ps_scan.pl from the pftools 2.3 package. ConoDictor is freely accessible at http://conco.ebc.ee.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks337
PMCID: PMC3394318  PMID: 22661581
5.  Population Genetic Structure in Indian Austroasiatic Speakers: The Role of Landscape Barriers and Sex-Specific Admixture 
Molecular biology and evolution  2010;28(2):1013-1024.
The geographic origin and time of dispersal of Austroasiatic (AA) speakers, presently settled in south and southeast Asia, remains disputed. Two rival hypotheses, both assuming a demic component to the language dispersal, have been proposed. The first of these places the origin of Austroasiatic speakers in southeast Asia with a later dispersal to south Asia during the Neolithic, whereas the second hypothesis advocates pre-Neolithic origins and dispersal of this language family from south Asia. To test the two alternative models, this study combines the analysis of uniparentally inherited markers with 610,000 common single nucleotide polymorphism loci from the nuclear genome. Indian AA speakers have high frequencies of Y chromosome haplogroup O2a; our results show that this haplogroup has significantly higher diversity and coalescent time (17–28 thousand years ago) in southeast Asia, strongly supporting the first of the two hypotheses. Nevertheless, the results of principal component and “structure-like” analyses on autosomal loci also show that the population history of AA speakers in India is more complex, being characterized by two ancestral components—one represented in the pattern of Y chromosomal and EDAR results and the other by mitochondrial DNA diversity and genomic structure. We propose that AA speakers in India today are derived from dispersal from southeast Asia, followed by extensive sex-specific admixture with local Indian populations.
doi:10.1093/molbev/msq288
PMCID: PMC3355372  PMID: 20978040
Austroasiatic; mtDNA; Y chromosome; autosomes; admixture
6.  Characterization of Species-Specific Repeats in 613 Prokaryotic Species 
Prokaryotes are in general believed to possess small, compactly organized genomes, with repetitive sequences forming only a small part of them. Nonetheless, many prokaryotic genomes in fact contain species-specific repeats (>85 bp long genomic sequences with less than 60% identity to other species) as we have previously demonstrated. However, it is not known at present how frequent such species-specific repeats are and what their functional roles in bacterial genomes may be. Therefore, we have conducted a comprehensive survey of prokaryotic species-specific repeats and characterized them to examine as to whether there are functional classes among different repeats or not and how they are mutually related to each other. Of the 613 distinct prokaryotic species analyzed, 97% were found to contain at least one species-specific repeats. It seems interesting to note that the species-specific repeats thus identified appear to be functionally variable in different genomes: in some genomes, they are mostly associated with duplicated protein-coding genes, whereas in some other genomes with rRNA and tRNA genes. Contrary to what may be expected, only one-fourth of the species-specific repeats were found to be associated with mobile genetic elements.
doi:10.1093/dnares/dss006
PMCID: PMC3372372  PMID: 22368180
species-specific; repeat; identification; prokaryote; pathogen
7.  A Computational Study of Elongation Factor G (EFG) Duplicated Genes: Diverged Nature Underlying the Innovation on the Same Structural Template 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e22789.
Background
Elongation factor G (EFG) is a core translational protein that catalyzes the elongation and recycling phases of translation. A more complex picture of EFG's evolution and function than previously accepted is emerging from analyzes of heterogeneous EFG family members. Whereas the gene duplication is postulated to be a prominent factor creating functional novelty, the striking divergence between EFG paralogs can be interpreted in terms of innovation in gene function.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We present a computational study of the EFG protein family to cover the role of gene duplication in the evolution of protein function. Using phylogenetic methods, genome context conservation and insertion/deletion (indel) analysis we demonstrate that the EFG gene copies form four subfamilies: EFG I, spdEFG1, spdEFG2, and EFG II. These ancient gene families differ by their indispensability, degree of divergence and number of indels. We show the distribution of EFG subfamilies and describe evidences for lateral gene transfer and recent duplications. Extended studies of the EFG II subfamily concern its diverged nature. Remarkably, EFG II appears to be a widely distributed and a much-diversified subfamily whose subdivisions correlate with phylum or class borders. The EFG II subfamily specific characteristics are low conservation of the GTPase domain, domains II and III; absence of the trGTPase specific G2 consensus motif “RGITI”; and twelve conserved positions common to the whole subfamily. The EFG II specific functional changes could be related to changes in the properties of nucleotide binding and hydrolysis and strengthened ionic interactions between EFG II and the ribosome, particularly between parts of the decoding site and loop I of domain IV.
Conclusions/Significance
Our work, for the first time, comprehensively identifies and describes EFG subfamilies and improves our understanding of the function and evolution of EFG duplicated genes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022789
PMCID: PMC3150367  PMID: 21829651
8.  Detection of NASBA amplified bacterial tmRNA molecules on SLICSel designed microarray probes 
BMC Biotechnology  2011;11:17.
Background
We present a comprehensive technological solution for bacterial diagnostics using tmRNA as a marker molecule. A robust probe design algorithm for microbial detection microarray is implemented. The probes were evaluated for specificity and, combined with NASBA (Nucleic Acid Sequence Based Amplification) amplification, for sensitivity.
Results
We developed a new web-based program SLICSel for the design of hybridization probes, based on nearest-neighbor thermodynamic modeling. A SLICSel minimum binding energy difference criterion of 4 kcal/mol was sufficient to design of Streptococcus pneumoniae tmRNA specific microarray probes. With lower binding energy difference criteria, additional hybridization specificity tests on the microarray were needed to eliminate non-specific probes. Using SLICSel designed microarray probes and NASBA we were able to detect S. pneumoniae tmRNA from a series of total RNA dilutions equivalent to the RNA content of 0.1-10 CFU.
Conclusions
The described technological solution and both its separate components SLICSel and NASBA-microarray technology independently are applicative for many different areas of microbial diagnostics.
doi:10.1186/1472-6750-11-17
PMCID: PMC3051898  PMID: 21356118
9.  Detection of tmRNA molecules on microarrays at low temperatures using helper oligonucleotides 
BMC Biotechnology  2010;10:34.
Background
The hybridization of synthetic Streptococcus pneumoniae tmRNA on a detection microarray is slow at 34°C resulting in low signal intensities.
Results
We demonstrate that adding specific DNA helper oligonucleotides (chaperones) to the hybridization buffer increases the signal strength at a given temperature and thus makes the specific detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae tmRNA more sensitive. No loss of specificity was observed at low temperatures compared to hybridization at 46°C. The effect of the chaperones can be explained by disruption of the strong secondary and tertiary structure of the target RNA by the selective hybridization of helper molecules. The amplification of the hybridization signal strength by chaperones is not necessarily local; we observed increased signal intensities in both local and distant regions of the target molecule.
Conclusions
The sensitivity of the detection of tmRNA at low temperature can be increased by chaperone oligonucleotides. Due to the complexity of RNA secondary and tertiary structures the effect of any individual chaperone is currently not predictable.
doi:10.1186/1472-6750-10-34
PMCID: PMC2873282  PMID: 20426847
11.  Fluorescent labeling of NASBA amplified tmRNA molecules for microarray applications 
BMC Biotechnology  2009;9:45.
Background
Here we present a novel promising microbial diagnostic method that combines the sensitivity of Nucleic Acid Sequence Based Amplification (NASBA) with the high information content of microarray technology for the detection of bacterial tmRNA molecules. The NASBA protocol was modified to include aminoallyl-UTP (aaUTP) molecules that were incorporated into nascent RNA during the NASBA reaction. Post-amplification labeling with fluorescent dye was carried out subsequently and tmRNA hybridization signal intensities were measured using microarray technology. Significant optimization of the labeled NASBA protocol was required to maintain the required sensitivity of the reactions.
Results
Two different aaUTP salts were evaluated and optimum final concentrations were identified for both. The final 2 mM concentration of aaUTP Li-salt in NASBA reaction resulted in highest microarray signals overall, being twice as high as the strongest signals with 1 mM aaUTP Na-salt.
Conclusion
We have successfully demonstrated efficient combination of NASBA amplification technology with microarray based hybridization detection. The method is applicative for many different areas of microbial diagnostics including environmental monitoring, bio threat detection, industrial process monitoring and clinical microbiology.
doi:10.1186/1472-6750-9-45
PMCID: PMC2685129  PMID: 19445684
12.  Genetic Structure of Europeans: A View from the North–East 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5472.
Using principal component (PC) analysis, we studied the genetic constitution of 3,112 individuals from Europe as portrayed by more than 270,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genotyped with the Illumina Infinium platform. In cohorts where the sample size was >100, one hundred randomly chosen samples were used for analysis to minimize the sample size effect, resulting in a total of 1,564 samples. This analysis revealed that the genetic structure of the European population correlates closely with geography. The first two PCs highlight the genetic diversity corresponding to the northwest to southeast gradient and position the populations according to their approximate geographic origin. The resulting genetic map forms a triangular structure with a) Finland, b) the Baltic region, Poland and Western Russia, and c) Italy as its vertexes, and with d) Central- and Western Europe in its centre. Inter- and intra- population genetic differences were quantified by the inflation factor lambda (λ) (ranging from 1.00 to 4.21), fixation index (Fst) (ranging from 0.000 to 0.023), and by the number of markers exhibiting significant allele frequency differences in pair-wise population comparisons. The estimated lambda was used to assess the real diminishing impact to association statistics when two distinct populations are merged directly in an analysis. When the PC analysis was confined to the 1,019 Estonian individuals (0.1% of the Estonian population), a fine structure emerged that correlated with the geography of individual counties. With at least two cohorts available from several countries, genetic substructures were investigated in Czech, Finnish, German, Estonian and Italian populations. Together with previously published data, our results allow the creation of a comprehensive European genetic map that will greatly facilitate inter-population genetic studies including genome wide association studies (GWAS).
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005472
PMCID: PMC2675054  PMID: 19424496
13.  Automatic identification of species-specific repetitive DNA sequences and their utilization for detecting microbial organisms 
Bioinformatics  2009;25(11):1349-1355.
Motivation: The concentration of pathogen DNA in biological samples is often very low. Therefore, the sensitivity of diagnostic tests is always a critical factor.
Results: We have developed a novel computational method that identifies species-specific repeats from microbial organisms and automatically designs species-specific PCR primers for these repeats. We tested the methodology on 30 randomly chosen microbial species and we demonstrate that species-specific repeats longer than 300 bp exist in all these genomes. We also used our methodology to design species-specific PCR primers for 86 repeats from five medically relevant microbial species. These PCR primers were tested experimentally. We demonstrate that using species-specific repeats as a PCR template region can increase the sensitivity of PCR in diagnostic tests.
Availability and Implementation: A web version of the method called MultiMPrimer3 was implemented and is freely available at http://bioinfo.ut.ee/multimprimer3/.
Contact: maido.remm@ut.ee
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btp241
PMCID: PMC2682524  PMID: 19357101
14.  Preferred and avoided codon pairs in three domains of life 
BMC Genomics  2008;9:463.
Background
Alternative synonymous codons are not used with equal frequencies. In addition, the contexts of codons – neighboring nucleotides and neighboring codons – can have certain patterns. The codon context can influence both translational accuracy and elongation rates. However, it is not known how strong or conserved the codon context preferences in different organisms are. We analyzed 138 organisms (bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes) to find conserved patterns of codon pairs.
Results
After removing the effects of single codon usage and dipeptide biases we discovered a set of neighboring codons for which avoidances or preferences were conserved in all three domains of life. Such biased codon pairs could be divided into subtypes on the basis of the nucleotide patterns that influence the bias. The most frequently avoided type of codon pair was nnUAnn. We discovered that 95.7% of avoided nnUAnn type patterns contain out-frame UAA or UAG triplets on the sense and/or antisense strand. On average, nnUAnn codon pairs are more frequently avoided in ORFeomes than in genomes. Thus we assume that translational selection plays a major role in the avoidance of these codon pairs. Among the preferred codon pairs, nnGCnn was the major type.
Conclusion
Translational selection shapes codon pair usage in protein coding sequences by rules that are common to all three domains of life. The most frequently avoided codon pairs contain the patterns nnUAnn, nnGGnn, nnGnnC, nnCGCn, GUCCnn, CUCCnn, nnCnnA or UUCGnn. The most frequently preferred codon pairs contain the patterns nnGCnn, nnCAnn or nnUnCn.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-463
PMCID: PMC2585594  PMID: 18842120
15.  Development of a single tube 640-plex genotyping method for detection of nucleic acid variations on microarrays 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(12):e75.
Detection of DNA sequence variation is critical to biomedical applications, including disease genetic identification, diagnosis and treatment, drug discovery and forensic analysis. Here, we describe an arrayed primer extension-based genotyping method (APEX-2) that allows multiplex (640-plex) DNA amplification and detection of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and mutations on microarrays via four-color single-base primer extension. The founding principle of APEX-2 multiplex PCR requires two oligonucleotides per SNP/mutation to generate amplicons containing the position of interest. The same oligonucleotides are then subsequently used as immobilized single-base extension primers on a microarray. The method described here is ideal for SNP or mutation detection analysis, molecular diagnostics and forensic analysis. This robust genetic test has minimal requirements: two primers, two spots on the microarray and a low cost four-color detection system for the targeted site; and provides an advantageous alternative to high-density platforms and low-density detection systems.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn357
PMCID: PMC2475630  PMID: 18539607
16.  Predicting failure rate of PCR in large genomes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(11):e66.
We have developed statistical models for estimating the failure rate of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers using 236 primer sequence-related factors. The model involved 1314 primer pairs and is based on more than 80 000 PCR experiments. We found that the most important factor in determining PCR failure is the number of predicted primer-binding sites in the genomic DNA. We also compared different ways of defining primer-binding sites (fixed length word versus thermodynamic model; exact match versus matches including 1–2 mismatches). We found that the most efficient prediction of PCR failure rates can be achieved using a combination of four factors (number of primer-binding sites counted in different ways plus GC% of the primer) combined into single statistical model GM1. According to our estimations from experimental data, the GM1 model can reduce the average failure rate of PCR primers nearly 3-fold (from 17% to 6%). The GM1 model can easily be implemented in software to premask genome sequences for potentially failing PCR primers, thus improving large-scale PCR-primer design.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn290
PMCID: PMC2441781  PMID: 18492719
17.  Translation initiation region sequence preferences in Escherichia coli 
BMC Molecular Biology  2007;8:100.
Background
The mRNA translation initiation region (TIR) comprises the initiator codon, Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence and translational enhancers. Probably the most abundant class of enhancers contains A/U-rich sequences. We have tested the influence of SD sequence length and the presence of enhancers on the efficiency of translation initiation.
Results
We found that during bacterial growth at 37°C, a six-nucleotide SD (AGGAGG) is more efficient than shorter or longer sequences. The A/U-rich enhancer contributes strongly to the efficiency of initiation, having the greatest stimulatory effect in the exponential growth phase of the bacteria. The SD sequences and the A/U-rich enhancer stimulate translation co-operatively: strong SDs are stimulated by the enhancer much more than weak SDs. The bacterial growth rate does not have a major influence on the TIR selection pattern. On the other hand, temperature affects the TIR preference pattern: shorter SD sequences are preferred at lower growth temperatures. We also performed an in silico analysis of the TIRs in all E. coli mRNAs. The base pairing potential of the SD sequences does not correlate with the codon adaptation index, which is used as an estimate of gene expression level.
Conclusion
In E. coli the SD selection preferences are influenced by the growth temperature and not influenced by the growth rate. The A/U rich enhancers stimulate translation considerably by acting co-operatively with the SD sequences.
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-100
PMCID: PMC2176067  PMID: 17973990
18.  Evaluating the performance of commercial whole-genome marker sets for capturing common genetic variation 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:159.
Background
New technologies have enabled genome-wide association studies to be conducted with hundreds of thousands of genotyped SNPs. Several different first-generation genome-wide panels of SNPs have been commercialized. The total amount of common genetic variation is still unknown; however, the coverage of commercial panels can be evaluated against reference population samples genotyped by the International HapMap project. Less information is available about coverage in samples from other populations.
Results
In this study we compare four commercial panels: the HumanHap 300 and HumanHap 550 Array Sets from the Illumina Infinium series and the Mapping 100 K and Mapping 500 K Array Sets from the Affymetrix GeneChip series. Tagging performance is compared among HapMap CEPH (CEU), Asian (JPT, CHB) and Yoruba (YRI) population samples. It is also evaluated in an Estonian population sample with more than 1000 individuals genotyped in two 500-kbp ENCODE regions of chromosome 2: ENr112 on 2p16.3 and ENr131 on 2p37.1.
Conclusion
We found that in a non-reference Caucasian population, commercial SNP panels provide levels of coverage similar to those in the HapMap CEPH population sample. We present the proportions of universal and population-specific SNPs in all the commercial platforms studied.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-159
PMCID: PMC1914356  PMID: 17562002
19.  Phylogenetic distribution of translational GTPases in bacteria 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:15.
Background
Translational GTPases are a family of proteins in which GTPase activity is stimulated by the large ribosomal subunit. Conserved sequence features allow members of this family to be identified.
Results
To achieve accurate protein identification and grouping we have developed a method combining searches with Hidden Markov Model profiles and tree based grouping. We found all the genes for translational GTPases in 191 fully sequenced bacterial genomes. The protein sequences were grouped into nine subfamilies.
Analysis of the results shows that three translational GTPases, the translation factors EF-Tu, EF-G and IF2, are present in all organisms examined. In addition, several copies of the genes encoding EF-Tu and EF-G are present in some genomes. In the case of multiple genes for EF-Tu, the gene copies are nearly identical; in the case of multiple EF-G genes, the gene copies have been considerably diverged. The fourth translational GTPase, LepA, the function of which is currently unknown, is also nearly universally conserved in bacteria, being absent from only one organism out of the 191 analyzed. The translation regulator, TypA, is also present in most of the organisms examined, being absent only from bacteria with small genomes.
Surprisingly, some of the well studied translational GTPases are present only in a very small number of bacteria. The translation termination factor RF3 is absent from many groups of bacteria with both small and large genomes. The specialized translation factor for selenocysteine incorporation – SelB – was found in only 39 organisms. Similarly, the tetracycline resistance proteins (Tet) are present only in a small number of species.
Proteins of the CysN/NodQ subfamily have acquired functions in sulfur metabolism and production of signaling molecules. The genes coding for CysN/NodQ proteins were found in 74 genomes. This protein subfamily is not confined to Proteobacteria, as suggested previously but present also in many other groups of bacteria.
Conclusion
Four of the translational GTPase subfamilies (IF2, EF-Tu, EF-G and LepA) are represented by at least one member in each bacterium studied, with one exception in LepA. This defines the set of translational GTPases essential for basic cell functions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-15
PMCID: PMC1780047  PMID: 17214893
20.  SNPmasker: automatic masking of SNPs and repeats across eukaryotic genomes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(Web Server issue):W651-W655.
SNPmasker is a comprehensive web interface for masking large eukaryotic genomes. The program is designed to mask SNPs from recent dbSNP database and to mask the repeats with two alternative programs. In addition to the SNP masking, we also offer population-specific substitution of SNP alleles in genomic sequence according to SNP frequencies in HapMap Phase II data. The input to SNPmasker can be defined in chromosomal coordinates or inserted as a sequence. The sequences masked by our web server are most useful as a preliminary step for different primer and probe design tasks. The service is available at and is free for all users.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl125
PMCID: PMC1538889  PMID: 16845091
21.  X-chromosome as a marker for population history: linkage disequilibrium and haplotype study in Eurasian populations 
Linkage disequilibrium structure is still unpredictable because the interplay of regional recombination rate and demographic history is poorly understood. We have compared the distribution of LD across two genomic regions differing in crossing-over activity – Xq13 (0.166 cM/Mb) and Xp22 (1.3 cM/Mb) – in 15 Eurasian populations. Demographic events predicted to increase the LD level – genetic drift, bottleneck and admixture – had a very strong impact on extent and patterns of regional LD across Xq13 compared to Xp22. The haplotype distribution of the DXS1225-DXS8082 microsatellites from Xq13 exhibiting strong association in all populations was remarkably influenced by population history. European populations shared one common haplotype with a frequency of 25-40%. The Volga-Ural populations studied, living at the geographic borderline of Europe, showed elevated LD as well as harboring a significant fraction of haplotypes originating from East Asia, thus reflecting their past migrations and admixture. In the young Kuusamo isolate from Finland, a bottleneck has led to allelic associations between loci and shifted the haplotype distribution, but has much less affected single microsatellite allele frequencies compared to the main Finnish population. The data show that the footprint of a demographic event is longer preserved in haplotype distribution within a region of low crossing-over rate, than in the information content of a single marker, or between actively recombining markers. As the knowledge of LD patterns is often chosen to assist association mapping of common disease, our conclusions emphasise the importance of understanding the history, structure and variation of a study population.
doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201340
PMCID: PMC1450114  PMID: 15657606
linkage disequilibrium; X chromosome; isolated populations; admixture populations; population structure; haplotype distribution; microsatellite markers
22.  GENOMEMASKER package for designing unique genomic PCR primers 
BMC Bioinformatics  2006;7:172.
Background
The design of oligonucleotides and PCR primers for studying large genomes is complicated by the redundancy of sequences. The eukaryotic genomes are particularly difficult to study due to abundant repeats. The speed of most existing primer evaluation programs is not sufficient for large-scale experiments.
Results
In order to improve the efficiency and success rate of automatic primer/oligo design, we created a novel method which allows rapid masking of repeats in large sequence files, for example in eukaryotic genomes. It also allows the detection of all alternative binding sites of PCR primers and the prediction of PCR products. The new method was implemented in a collection of efficient programs, the GENOMEMASKER package. The performance of the programs was compared to other similar programs. We also modified the PRIMER3 program, to be able to design primers from lowercase-masked sequences.
Conclusion
The GENOMEMASKER package is able to mask the entire human genome for non-unique primers within 6 hours and find locations of all binding sites for 10 000 designed primer pairs within 10 minutes. Additionally, it predicts all alternative PCR products from large genomes for given primer pairs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-7-172
PMCID: PMC1450303  PMID: 16566824
23.  An Evaluation of the Performance of Tag SNPs Derived from HapMap in a Caucasian Population 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(3):e27.
The Haplotype Map (HapMap) project recently generated genotype data for more than 1 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in four population samples. The main application of the data is in the selection of tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (tSNPs) to use in association studies. The usefulness of this selection process needs to be verified in populations outside those used for the HapMap project. In addition, it is not known how well the data represent the general population, as only 90–120 chromosomes were used for each population and since the genotyped SNPs were selected so as to have high frequencies. In this study, we analyzed more than 1,000 individuals from Estonia. The population of this northern European country has been influenced by many different waves of migrations from Europe and Russia. We genotyped 1,536 randomly selected SNPs from two 500-kbp ENCODE regions on Chromosome 2. We observed that the tSNPs selected from the CEPH (Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain) from Utah (CEU) HapMap samples (derived from US residents with northern and western European ancestry) captured most of the variation in the Estonia sample. (Between 90% and 95% of the SNPs with a minor allele frequency of more than 5% have an r2 of at least 0.8 with one of the CEU tSNPs.) Using the reverse approach, tags selected from the Estonia sample could almost equally well describe the CEU sample. Finally, we observed that the sample size, the allelic frequency, and the SNP density in the dataset used to select the tags each have important effects on the tagging performance. Overall, our study supports the use of HapMap data in other Caucasian populations, but the SNP density and the bias towards high-frequency SNPs have to be taken into account when designing association studies.
Synopsis
The recent completion of the Haplotype Map (HapMap) project of the human genome provides considerable information on the patterns of variation in the genome of four populations. One of the applications is a description of a set of tags that act as proxies for many other surrounding variants. This will greatly help researchers in their quest to find complex disease genes by reducing the number of genetic variants to test in association studies. To evaluate its usefulness, several aspects of the map, including its transferability to other populations, still needed to be verified experimentally. Using genomic regions where variants had been thoroughly documented in Caucasian samples from Estonia, the researchers found that the transferability of tags is extremely good. The researchers also found that variants with low frequency in the general population (i.e., less than 5%) could not be accurately captured with tags, and that the regional density of variants in the HapMap project had a major impact on the performance of the tags. This research indicates that the HapMap project will be useful, but that careful consideration of hypotheses and study design will be essential for the success of association studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020027
PMCID: PMC1391920  PMID: 16532062
24.  An Evaluation of the Performance of Tag SNPs Derived from HapMap in a Caucasian Population 
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(3):e27.
The Haplotype Map (HapMap) project recently generated genotype data for more than 1 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in four population samples. The main application of the data is in the selection of tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (tSNPs) to use in association studies. The usefulness of this selection process needs to be verified in populations outside those used for the HapMap project. In addition, it is not known how well the data represent the general population, as only 90–120 chromosomes were used for each population and since the genotyped SNPs were selected so as to have high frequencies. In this study, we analyzed more than 1,000 individuals from Estonia. The population of this northern European country has been influenced by many different waves of migrations from Europe and Russia. We genotyped 1,536 randomly selected SNPs from two 500-kbp ENCODE regions on Chromosome 2. We observed that the tSNPs selected from the CEPH (Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain) from Utah (CEU) HapMap samples (derived from US residents with northern and western European ancestry) captured most of the variation in the Estonia sample. (Between 90% and 95% of the SNPs with a minor allele frequency of more than 5% have an r2 of at least 0.8 with one of the CEU tSNPs.) Using the reverse approach, tags selected from the Estonia sample could almost equally well describe the CEU sample. Finally, we observed that the sample size, the allelic frequency, and the SNP density in the dataset used to select the tags each have important effects on the tagging performance. Overall, our study supports the use of HapMap data in other Caucasian populations, but the SNP density and the bias towards high-frequency SNPs have to be taken into account when designing association studies.
Synopsis
The recent completion of the Haplotype Map (HapMap) project of the human genome provides considerable information on the patterns of variation in the genome of four populations. One of the applications is a description of a set of tags that act as proxies for many other surrounding variants. This will greatly help researchers in their quest to find complex disease genes by reducing the number of genetic variants to test in association studies. To evaluate its usefulness, several aspects of the map, including its transferability to other populations, still needed to be verified experimentally. Using genomic regions where variants had been thoroughly documented in Caucasian samples from Estonia, the researchers found that the transferability of tags is extremely good. The researchers also found that variants with low frequency in the general population (i.e., less than 5%) could not be accurately captured with tags, and that the regional density of variants in the HapMap project had a major impact on the performance of the tags. This research indicates that the HapMap project will be useful, but that careful consideration of hypotheses and study design will be essential for the success of association studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020027
PMCID: PMC1391920  PMID: 16532062
25.  Highly expressed proteins have an increased frequency of alanine in the second amino acid position 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:28.
Background
Although the sequence requirements for translation initiation regions have been frequently analysed, usually the highly expressed genes are not treated as a separate dataset.
Results
To investigate this, we analysed the mRNA regions downstream of initiation codons in nine bacteria, three archaea and three unicellular eukaryotes, comparing the dataset of highly expressed genes to the dataset of all genes. In addition to the detailed analysis of the nucleotide and codon frequencies we compared the N-termini of highly expressed proteins to the N-termini of all proteins coded in the genome.
Conclusion
The most conserved pattern was observed at the amino acid level: strong alanine over-representation was observed at the second amino acid position of highly expressed proteins. This pattern is well conserved in all three domains of life.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-28
PMCID: PMC1397820  PMID: 16483368

Results 1-25 (27)