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Genetics. 2008 Mar;178(3):1579-93. doi: 10.1534/genetics.107.084061. Epub 2008 Feb 3.

A combination of cis and trans control can solve the hotspot conversion paradox.

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  • Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA. adpeters1@wisc.edu


There is growing evidence that in a variety of organisms the majority of meiotic recombination events occur at a relatively small fraction of loci, known as recombination hotspots. If hotspot activity results from the DNA sequence at or near the hotspot itself (in cis), these hotspots are expected to be rapidly lost due to biased gene conversion, unless there is strong selection in favor of the hotspot itself. This phenomenon makes it very difficult to maintain existing hotspots and even more difficult for new hotspots to evolve; it has therefore come to be known as the "hotspot conversion paradox." I develop an analytical framework for exploring the evolution of recombination hotspots under the forces of selection, mutation, and conversion. I derive the general conditions under which cis- and trans-controlled hotspots can be maintained, as well as those under which new hotspots controlled by both a cis and a trans locus can invade a population. I show that the conditions for maintenance of and invasion by trans- or cis-plus-trans-controlled hotspots are broader than for those controlled entirely in cis. Finally, I show that a combination of cis and trans control may allow for long-lived polymorphisms in hotspot activity, the patterns of which may explain some recently observed features of recombination hotspots.

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