Genome Research 14(4) , 539-548 (Apr 2004)
We present an analysis of rates and patterns of microevolutionary phenomena that have shaped the human, mouse, and rat genomes since their last common ancestor. We find evidence for a shift ill the mutational spectrum between the mouse and rat lineages, with the net effect being a relative increase ill GC content in the rat genome. Off estimate for the neutral point substitution rate separating the two rodents is 0.196 substitutions per site, and 0.65 substitutions per site for the tree relating all three mammals. Small insertions and deletions of 1-10 bp in length (“microindels”) occur at similar to5% of the point substitution rate. Inferred regional correlations in evolutionary rates between lineages and between types of sites support the idea that rates of evolution are influenced by local genomic or cell biological context. No substantial correlations between rates of point substitutions and rates of microindels are found, however, implying that the influences that affect these processes are distinct. Finally, we have identified those regions in the human genome that are evolving slowly, which are likely to include functional elements important to human biology. At least 5% of the human genome is Under substantial constraint, most of which is noncoding.