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Genomics. 2004 Feb;83(2):193-202.

Plasticity of human chromosome 3 during primate evolution.

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  • 1Comparative Genomics Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia.


Comparative mapping of more than 100 region-specific clones from human chromosome 3 in Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, siamang gibbon, and Old and New World monkeys allowed us to reconstruct ancestral simian and hominoid chromosomes. A single paracentric inversion derives chromosome 1 of the Old World monkey Presbytis cristata from the simian ancestor. In the New World monkey Callithrix geoffroyi and siamang, the ancestor diverged on multiple chromosomes, through utilizing different breakpoints. One shared and two independent inversions derive Bornean orangutan 2 and human 3, implying that neither Bornean orangutans nor humans have conserved the ancestral chromosome form. The inversions, fissions, and translocations in the five species analyzed involve at least 14 different evolutionary breakpoints along the entire length of human 3; however, particular regions appear to be more susceptible to chromosome reshuffling. The ancestral pericentromeric region has promoted both large-scale and micro-rearrangements. Small segments homologous to human 3q11.2 and 3q21.2 were repositioned intrachromosomally independent of the surrounding markers in the orangutan lineage. Breakage and rearrangement of the human 3p12.3 region were associated with extensive intragenomic duplications at multiple orangutan and gibbon subtelomeric sites. We propose that new chromosomes and genomes arise through large-scale rearrangements of evolutionarily conserved genomic building blocks and additional duplication, amplification, and/or repositioning of inherently unstable smaller DNA segments contained within them.

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