©2003 by The American Society of Human Genetics. Also available from the journal website at http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AJHG/home.htmlMinisatellite MS1 (locus D1S7) is one of the most unstable minisatellites identified in humans. It is unusual in having a short repeat unit of 9 bp and in showing somatic instability in colorectal carcinomas, suggesting that mitotic replication or repair errors may contribute to repeat-DNA mutation. We have therefore used single-molecule polymerase chain reaction to characterize mutation events in sperm and somatic DNA. As with other minisatellites,\ud high levels of instability are seen only in the germline and generate two distinct classes of structural change. The first involves large and frequently complex rearrangements that most likely arise by recombinational processes, as is seen at other minisatellites. The second pathway generates primarily, if not exclusively, single-repeat changes restricted to sequence-homogeneous regions of alleles. Their frequency is dependent on the length of uninterrupted repeats, with evidence of a hyperinstability threshold similar in length to that observed at triplet-repeat loci showing expansions driven by dynamic mutation. In contrast to triplet loci, however, the single-repeat changes at MS1\ud exclusively involve repeat deletion, and can be so frequent—as many as 0.7–1.3 mutation events per sperm cell for the longest homogeneous arrays—that alleles harboring these long arrays must be extremely ephemeral in human populations. The apparently impossible existence of alleles with deletion-prone uninterrupted repeats therefore presents a paradox with no obvious explanation
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