Report

Drive Against Hotspot Motifs in Primates Implicates the PRDM9 Gene in Meiotic Recombination

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Science  31 Dec 2009:
1166202
DOI: 10.1126/science.1182363

Abstract

Although present in both humans and chimpanzees, recombination hotspots, at which meiotic crossover events cluster, differ markedly in their genomic location between the species. We report that a 13-bp sequence motif previously associated with the activity of 40% of human hotspots does not function in chimpanzee and is being removed by self-destructive drive in the human lineage. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the rapidly evolving zinc-finger protein PRDM9 binds to this motif and that sequence changes in the protein may be responsible for hotspot differences between species. The involvement of PRDM9, which causes histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation, implicates a common mechanism for recombination hotspots in eukaryotes but raises questions about what forces have driven such rapid change.