A statistical method based on r-fragments, sums of distances between (r + 1) consecutive restriction enzyme sites, is introduced for detecting nonrandomness in the distribution or too markers in sequence data. The technique is applicable whenever large numbers of markers are available and will detect clumping, excessive dispersion or too much evenness of spacing of the markers. It is particularly adapted to varying the scale on which inhomogeneities can be detected, from nearest neighbor interactions to more distant interactions. The r-fragment procedure is applied primarily to the Kohara et al. (1) physical map of E. coli. Other applications to DAM methylation sites in E. coli and NotI sites in human chromosome 21 are presented. Restriction sites for the eight enzymes used in (1) appear to be randomly distributed, although at widely differing densities. These conclusions are substantially in agreement with the analysis of Churchill et al. (3). Extreme variability in the density of the eight restriction enzyme sites cannot be explained by variability in mono-, di- or trinucleotide frequencies.
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