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Genetics. 2003 Feb;163(2):811-22.

The evolution of sex dimorphism in recombination.

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CEFE-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 34293 Montpellier, France.


Sex dimorphism in recombination is widespread on both sex chromosomes and autosomes. Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain these dimorphisms. Yet no theoretical model has been explored to determine how heterochiasmy--the autosomal dimorphism--could evolve. The model presented here shows three circumstances in which heterochiasmy is likely to evolve: (i) a male-female difference in haploid epistasis, (ii) a male-female difference in cis-epistasis minus trans-epistasis in diploids, or (iii) a difference in epistasis between combinations of genes inherited maternally or paternally. These results hold even if sources of linkage disequilibria besides epistasis, such as migration or Hill-Robertson interference, are considered and shed light on previous verbal models of sex dimorphism in recombination rates. Intriguingly, these results may also explain why imprinted regions on the autosomes of humans or sheep are particularly heterochiasmate.

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