Drive Against Hotspot Motifs in Primates Implicates the PRDM9 Gene in Meiotic Recombination
Myers S., Bowden R., Tumian A., Bontrop RE., Freeman C., MacFie TS., McVean G., Donnelly P.
Homing in on Hotspots The clustering of recombination in the genome, around locations known as hotspots, is associated with specific DNA motifs. Now, using a variety of techniques, three studies implicate a chromatin-modifying protein, the histone-methyltransferase PRDM9, as a major factor involved in human hotspots (see the Perspective by Cheung et al. ). Parvanov et al. (p. 835 , published online 31 December) mapped the locus in mice, and analyzed allelic variation in mice and humans, whereas Myers et al. (p. 876 , published online 31 December) used a comparative analysis between human and chimpanzees to show that the recombination process leads to a self-destructive drive in which the very motifs that recruit hotspots are eliminated from our genome. Baudat et al. (p. 836 , published online 31 December) took this analysis a step further to identify human allelic variants within Prdm9 that differed in the frequency at which they used hotspots. Furthermore, differential binding of this protein to different human alleles suggests that this protein interacts with specific DNA sequences. Thus, PDRM9 functions in the determination of recombination loci within the genome and may be a significant factor in the genomic differences between closely related species.