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PLoS Biol. 2011 Dec;9(12):e1001211. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001211. Epub 2011 Dec 6.

The case of the fickle fingers: how the PRDM9 zinc finger protein specifies meiotic recombination hotspots in humans.

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  • 1Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA. lsegurel@uchicago.edu


During mammalian meiosis, double-strand breaks are deliberately made throughout the genome and then repaired, leading to the exchange of genetic material between copies of chromosomes. How the locations of breaks are specified was largely unknown until a fortuitous confluence of statistical genetics and molecular biology uncovered the role of PRDM9, a DNA binding protein. Many properties of this protein remain mysterious, however, including how it binds to DNA, how it contributes to male infertility-both in humans, and in hybrid mice-and why, in spite of its fundamental function in meiosis, its binding domain varies extensively among humans and across mammals. We present a brief summary of what has recently been learned about PRDM9 in different fields, focusing on the puzzles yet to be resolved.

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