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Genetics. 2000 Dec;156(4):1661-9.

Transposons but not retrotransposons are located preferentially in regions of high recombination rate in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, Université Lyon 1, 69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France.


We analyzed the distribution of transposable elements (TEs: transposons, LTR retrotransposons, and non-LTR retrotransposons) in the chromosomes of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The density of transposons (DNA-based elements) along the chromosomes was found to be positively correlated with recombination rate, but this relationship was not observed for LTR or non-LTR retrotransposons (RNA-based elements). Gene (coding region) density is higher in regions of low recombination rate. However, the lower TE density in these regions is not due to the counterselection of TE insertions within exons since the same positive correlation between TE density and recombination rate was found in noncoding regions (both in introns and intergenic DNA). These data are not compatible with a global model of selection acting against TE insertions, for which an accumulation of elements in regions of reduced recombination is expected. We also found no evidence for a stronger selection against TE insertions on the X chromosome compared to the autosomes. The difference in distribution of the DNA and RNA-based elements along the chromosomes in relation to recombination rate can be explained by differences in the transposition processes.

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