Feb 14, 2004

Recombination drives the evolution of GC-content in the human genome

Molecular Biology and Evolution
Julien Meunier, Laurent Duret


Unraveling the evolutionary forces responsible for variations of neutral substitution patterns among taxa or along genomes is a major issue in the identification of functional sequence features. Mammalian genomes show large-scale regional variations of GC-content (the isochores), but the substitution processes at the origin of this structure are poorly understood. We have analyzed the pattern of neutral substitutions in 14.3 Mb of primate noncoding regions. We show that the GC-content toward which sequences are evolving is strongly correlated (r(2) = 0.61, P </= 2 10(-16)) with the rate of crossovers (notably in females). This demonstrates that recombination drives the evolution of base composition in human (probably via the process of biased gene conversion). The present substitution patterns are very different from what they had been in the past, resulting in a major modification of the isochore structure of our genome. This non-equilibrium situation suggests that changes of recombination rates occur relatively frequently during evolution, possibly as a consequence of karyotype rearrangements. These results have important implications for understanding the spatial and temporal variations of substitution processes in a broad r...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

In Silico
Recombination, Genetic
Gene Conversion
Genome, Human
G+C Composition

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