Jul 20, 2011

Evidence for a high mutation rate at rapidly evolving yeast centromeres

BMC Evolutionary Biology
Douda Bensasson

Abstract

Although their role in cell division is essential, centromeres evolve rapidly in animals, plants and yeasts. Unlike the complex centromeres of plants and aminals, the point centromeres of Saccharomcyes yeasts can be readily sequenced to distinguish amongst the possible explanations for fast centromere evolution. Using DNA sequences of all 16 centromeres from 34 strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and population genomic data from Saccharomyces paradoxus, I show that centromeres in both species evolve 3 times more rapidly even than selectively unconstrained DNA. Exceptionally high levels of polymorphism seen in multiple yeast populations suggest that rapid centromere evolution does not result from the repeated selective sweeps expected under meiotic drive. I further show that there is little evidence for crossing-over or gene conversion within centromeres, although there is clear evidence for recombination in their immediate vicinity. Finally I show that the mutation spectrum at centromeres is consistent with the pattern of spontaneous mutation elsewhere in the genome. These results indicate that rapid centromere evolution is a common phenomenon in yeast species. Furthermore, these results suggest that rapid centromere evolution ...Continue Reading

Mentioned in this Paper

Guanine
Nucleosomes
Histone antigen
Derivatives
Genome
DNA Repair
Saccharomyces cerevisiae allergenic extract
NCS1 gene
CENPA gene
Cell Division

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