Journal Article

CpG Deamination Creates Transcription Factor–Binding Sites with High Efficiency

Tomasz Żemojtel, Szymon M. kiełbasa, Peter F. Arndt, Sarah Behrens, Guillaume Bourque and Martin Vingron

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 3, issue , pages 1304-1311
Published in print January 2011 |
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
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The formation of new transcription factor–binding sites (TFBSs) has a major impact on the evolution of gene regulatory networks. Clearly, single nucleotide mutations arising within genomic DNA can lead to the creation of TFBSs. Are molecular processes inducing single nucleotide mutations contributing equally to the creation of TFBSs? In the human genome, a spontaneous deamination of methylated cytosine in the context of CpG dinucleotides results in the creation of thymine (C → T), and this mutation has the highest rate among all base substitutions. CpG deamination has been ascribed a role in silencing of transposons and induction of variation in regional methylation. We have previously shown that CpG deamination created thousands of p53-binding sites within genomic sequences of Alu transposons. Interestingly, we have defined a ∼30 bp region in Alu sequence, which, depending on a pattern of CpG deamination, can be converted to functional p53-, PAX-6-, and Myc-binding sites. Here, we have studied single nucleotide mutational events leading to creation of TFBSs in promoters of human genes and in genomic regions bound by such key transcription factors as Oct4, NANOG, and c-Myc. We document that CpG deamination events can create TFBSs with much higher efficiency than other types of mutational events. Our findings add a new role to CpG methylation: We propose that deamination of methylated CpGs constitutes one of the evolutionary forces acting on mutational trajectories of TFBSs formation contributing to variability in gene regulation.

Keywords: CpG methylation; CpG deamination; evolution of transcription factor–binding sites; evolution of gene regulatory elements; Alu transposon

Journal Article.  4327 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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