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Genetics. 2016 Sep;204(1):259-65. doi: 10.1534/genetics.116.190389. Epub 2016 Jun 24.

Selection on Inversion Breakpoints Favors Proximity to Pairing Sensitive Sites in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064 Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720


Chromosomal inversions are widespread among taxa, and have been implicated in a number of biological processes including adaptation, sex chromosome evolution, and segregation distortion. Consistent with selection favoring linkage between loci, it is well established that length is a selected trait of inversions. However, the factors that affect the distribution of inversion breakpoints remain poorly understood. "Sensitive sites" have been mapped on all euchromatic chromosome arms in Drosophila melanogaster, and may be a source of natural selection on inversion breakpoint positions. Briefly, sensitive sites are genomic regions wherein proximal structural rearrangements result in large reductions in local recombination rates in heterozygotes. Here, I show that breakpoints of common inversions are significantly more likely to lie within a cytological band containing a sensitive site than are breakpoints of rare inversions. Furthermore, common inversions for which neither breakpoint intersects a sensitive site are significantly longer than rare inversions, but common inversions whose breakpoints intersect a sensitive site show no evidence for increased length. I interpret these results to mean that selection favors inversions whose breakpoints disrupt synteny near to sensitive sites, possibly because these inversions suppress recombination in large genomic regions. To my knowledge this is the first evidence consistent with positive selection acting on inversion breakpoint positions.


Drosophila melanogaster; breakpoints; chromosomal inversions; sensitive sites; structural variation

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