The sex-specific impact of meiotic recombination on nucleotide composition. Academic Article uri icon


  • Meiotic recombination is an important evolutionary force shaping the nucleotide landscape of genomes. For most vertebrates, the frequency of recombination varies slightly or considerably between the sexes (heterochiasmy). In humans, male, rather than female, recombination rate has been found to be more highly correlated with the guanine and cytosine (GC) content across the genome. In the present study, we review the results in human and extend the examination of the evolutionary impact of heterochiasmy beyond primates to include four additional eutherian mammals (mouse, dog, pig, and sheep), a metatherian mammal (opossum), and a bird (chicken). Specifically, we compared sex-specific recombination rates (RRs) with nucleotide substitution patterns evaluated in transposable elements. Our results, based on a comparative approach, reveal a great diversity in the relationship between heterochiasmy and nucleotide composition. We find that the stronger male impact on this relationship is a conserved feature of human, mouse, dog, and sheep. In contrast, variation in genomic GC content in pig and opossum is more strongly correlated with female, rather than male, RR. Moreover, we show that the sex-differential impact of recombination is mainly driven by the chromosomal localization of recombination events. Independent of sex, the higher the RR in a genomic region and the longer this recombination activity is conserved in time, the stronger the bias in nucleotide substitution pattern, through such mechanisms as biased gene conversion. Over time, this bias will increase the local GC content of the region.

published proceedings

  • Genome Biol Evol

author list (cited authors)

  • Popa, A., Samollow, P., Gautier, C., & Mouchiroud, D.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Popa, Alexandra||Samollow, Paul||Gautier, Christian||Mouchiroud, Dominique

publication date

  • January 2012