You are on page 1of 10

Repetitive DNA Sequences

A stretch of DNA sequence often repeats several

times in the total DNA of a cell.
For example, the following DNA sequence is just
a small part oftelomerelocated at the ends of
each human chromosome:
An entire telomere, about 15 kb, is constituted
by thousands of the repeated sequence
DNA reassociation kineticsis used to classify
the repetitive DNA sequences.
The total DNA is first randomly cleaved into
fragments with an average size of about 1000 bp.
Then, they are heated to separate the
complementary strands of each fragment.
Subsequently, temperature is reduced to allow
strand reassociation.
If a fragment contains a sequence which is
repeated many times in the total DNA, it will have
greater chance to find a complementary strand
and reassociate more quickly than other
fragments with less repetitive sequences.
Based on the reassociation rate, DNA sequences
are divided into three classes:-
(I)Highly repetitive.
(II) Moderately repetitive.
(III)Moderately repetitive.
(I)Highly repetitive
About 10-15% of mammalian DNA fragments
reassociate very rapidly.
This class includestandem repeats.

Tandem repeats
Tandem repeats are an array of consecutive
They include three subclasses: satellites,
minisatellites and microsatellites.
The name "satellites" comes from their optical

The size of a satellite DNA ranges from 100 kb

to over 1 Mb.
In humans, a well known example is
thealphoid DNAlocated at the centromere of all
Its repeat unit is 171 bp and the repetitive
region accounts for 3-5% of the DNA in each
Other satellites have a shorter repeat unit.
Most satellites in humans or in other organisms
are located at the centromere.
The size of a minisatellite ranges from 1 kb to
20 kb. One type of minisatellites is
calledvariable number of tandem repeats
Its repeat unit ranges from 9 bp to 80 bp.
They are located in non-coding regions.
The number of repeats for a given minisatellite
may differ between individuals.
This feature is the basis ofDNA fingerprinting
Another type of minisatellites is the telomere.
In a human germ cell, the size of a telomere is
The telomere contains tandemly repeated
sequence GGGTTA.

Microsatellites are also known asshort tandem
repeats(STR), because a repeat unit consists of
only 1 to 6 bp and the whole repetitive region
spans less than 150 bp.
Similar to minisatellites, the number of repeats
for a given microsatellite may differ between
Therefore, microsatellites can also be used for
DNA fingerprinting. In addition, both
(II)Moderately repetitive
Roughly 25-40% of mammalian DNA fragments
reassociate at an intermediate rate.
This class includesinterspersed repeats(also
known asmobile elementsortransposable

(III)Single copy
This class accounts for 50-60% of mammalian