Avoidance of inter-repeat recombination by sequence divergence and a mechanism of neutral evolution

Biochimie. 1991 Apr;73(4):357-61. doi: 10.1016/0300-9084(91)90101-6.


Eucaryotic genomes are loaded with diverse repeated sequences and are therefore threatened by rearrangements via inter-repeat crossovers and by gene-inactivating conversions between genes and their inactive pseudogenes. Such repeated DNA sequences are usually diverged and polymorphic. Sequence divergence by well-spread point mutations is a potent inhibitor of homologous recombination due to the loss of recombination initiation sites and to the editing of recombinational intermediates by the mismatch repair system. Evidence is reviewed suggesting that a germ line process can identify duplicated sequences by homologous pairing, modify them by methylation and mutate by C----T transitions. Since this process requires a minimum contiguous homology that is larger than the average exon size, it is proposed that fragmentation by intron inserts protects the coding sequences from inactivation by homologous interactions with their pseudogene sequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid*
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid*
  • Species Specificity