Using an algorithm that compares DNA's three-dimensional structure between different species, researchers from BU, NCBI, and NHGRI have found that more of the human genome is under evolutionary constraint than previously appreciated.
For this study, the researchers developed an algorithm based on three-dimensional structures deciphered from the hydroxyl radical cleavage pattern of DNA. Since hydroxyl radicals are extremely reactive free radicals, they can pluck hydrogen from DNA and use it to create water, cutting the DNA backbone in the process, co-senior author Thomas Tullius, a Boston University chemist, told GenomeWeb Daily News.
Looking at the cleavage patterns indicates which parts of the DNA backbone are solvent accessible, revealing the three-dimensional shape of the DNA.
Their results suggest that 12 percent of the bases in the human genome are subject to evolutionary constraint — up from the six percent identified by sequence data alone.