Absence of the TAP2 human recombination hotspot in chimpanzees

PLoS Biol. 2004 Jun;2(6):e155. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020155. Epub 2004 Jun 15.


Recent experiments using sperm typing have demonstrated that, in several regions of the human genome, recombination does not occur uniformly but instead is concentrated in "hotspots" of 1-2 kb. Moreover, the crossover asymmetry observed in a subset of these has led to the suggestion that hotspots may be short-lived on an evolutionary time scale. To test this possibility, we focused on a region known to contain a recombination hotspot in humans, TAP2, and asked whether chimpanzees, the closest living evolutionary relatives of humans, harbor a hotspot in a similar location. Specifically, we used a new statistical approach to estimate recombination rate variation from patterns of linkage disequilibrium in a sample of 24 western chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus). This method has been shown to produce reliable results on simulated data and on human data from the TAP2 region. Strikingly, however, it finds very little support for recombination rate variation at TAP2 in the western chimpanzee data. Moreover, simulations suggest that there should be stronger support if there were a hotspot similar to the one characterized in humans. Thus, it appears that the human TAP2 recombination hotspot is not shared by western chimpanzees. These findings demonstrate that fine-scale recombination rates can change between very closely related species and raise the possibility that rates differ among human populations, with important implications for linkage-disequilibrium based association studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 3
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Computer Simulation
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 3
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • TAP2 protein, human

Associated data

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