Molecular characterisation of the pericentric inversion that distinguishes human chromosome 5 from the homologous chimpanzee chromosome
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- Szamalek, J.M., Goidts, V., Chuzhanova, N. et al. Hum Genet (2005) 117: 168. doi:10.1007/s00439-005-1287-y
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Human and chimpanzee karyotypes differ by virtue of nine pericentric inversions that serve to distinguish human chromosomes 1, 4, 5, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17, and 18 from their chimpanzee orthologues. In this study, we have analysed the breakpoints of the pericentric inversion characteristic of chimpanzee chromosome 4, the homologue of human chromosome 5. Breakpoint-spanning BAC clones were identified from both the human and chimpanzee genomes by fluorescence in situ hybridisation, and the precise locations of the breakpoints were determined by sequence comparisons. In stark contrast to some other characterised evolutionary rearrangements in primates, this chimpanzee-specific inversion appears not to have been mediated by either gross segmental duplications or low-copy repeats, although micro-duplications were found adjacent to the breakpoints. However, alternating purine–pyrimidine (RY) tracts were detected at the breakpoints, and such sequences are known to adopt non-B DNA conformations that are capable of triggering DNA breakage and genomic rearrangements. Comparison of the breakpoint region of human chromosome 5q15 with the orthologous regions of the chicken, mouse, and rat genomes, revealed similar but non-identical syntenic disruptions in all three species. The clustering of evolutionary breakpoints within this chromosomal region, together with the presence of multiple pathological breakpoints in the vicinity of both 5p15 and 5q15, is consistent with the non-random model of chromosomal evolution and suggests that these regions may well possess intrinsic features that have served to mediate a variety of genomic rearrangements, including the pericentric inversion in chimpanzee chromosome 4.