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Trends Genet. 2007 Jun;23(6):301-9. Epub 2007 Apr 16.

Playing hide and seek with mammalian meiotic crossover hotspots.

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  • 1Institute of Human Genetics, UPR1142-CNRS, 141 rue de la Cardonille, 34396 Montpellier cedex 5, France.


Crossovers (COs) are essential for meiosis and contribute to genome diversity by promoting the reassociation of alleles, and thus improve the efficiency of selection. COs are not randomly distributed but are found at specific regions, or CO hotspots. Recent results have revealed the historical recombination rates and the distribution of hotspots across the human genome. Surprisingly, CO hotspots are highly dynamic, as shown by differences in activity between individuals, populations and closely related species. We propose a role for DNA methylation in preventing the formation of COs, a regulation that might explain, in part, the correlation between recombination rates and GC content in mammals.

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