Although present in both humans and chimpanzees, recombination hotspots, at which meiotic crossover events cluster, differ markedly in their genomic location between the species. We report that a 13-base pair sequence motif previously associated with the activity of 40% of human hotspots does not function in chimpanzees and is being removed by self-destructive drive in the human lineage. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the rapidly evolving zinc-finger protein PRDM9 binds to this motif and that sequence changes in the protein may be responsible for hotspot differences between species. The involvement of PRDM9, which causes histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation, implies that there is a common mechanism for recombination hotspots in eukaryotes but raises questions about what forces have driven such rapid change.

Original publication

DOI

10.1126/science.1182363

Type

Journal article

Journal

Science

Publication Date

12/02/2010

Volume

327

Pages

876 - 879

Keywords

Animals, Base Sequence, Crossing Over, Genetic, DNA, Evolution, Molecular, Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase, Histones, Humans, Meiosis, Methylation, Pan troglodytes, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Recombination, Genetic, Species Specificity