A comprehensive molecular cytogenetic analysis of chromosome rearrangements in gibbons

Genome Res. 2012 Dec;22(12):2520-8. doi: 10.1101/gr.138651.112. Epub 2012 Aug 14.


Chromosome rearrangements in small apes are up to 20 times more frequent than in most mammals. Because of their complexity, the full extent of chromosome evolution in these hominoids is not yet fully documented. However, previous work with array painting, BAC-FISH, and selective sequencing in two of the four karyomorphs has shown that high-resolution methods can precisely define chromosome breakpoints and map the complex flow of evolutionary chromosome rearrangements. Here we use these tools to precisely define the rearrangements that have occurred in the remaining two karyomorphs, genera Symphalangus (2n = 50) and Hoolock (2n = 38). This research provides the most comprehensive insight into the evolutionary origins of chromosome rearrangements involved in transforming small apes genome. Bioinformatics analyses of the human-gibbon synteny breakpoints revealed association with transposable elements and segmental duplications, providing some insight into the mechanisms that might have promoted rearrangements in small apes. In the near future, the comparison of gibbon genome sequences will provide novel insights to test hypotheses concerning the mechanisms of chromosome evolution. The precise definition of synteny block boundaries and orientation, chromosomal fusions, and centromere repositioning events presented here will facilitate genome sequence assembly for these close relatives of humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Centromere / chemistry
  • Centromere / genetics
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • Cytogenetic Analysis / methods*
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Humans
  • Hylobates / genetics*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Karyotype
  • Mutation
  • Phylogeny


  • DNA Transposable Elements