The rate of meiotic gene conversion varies by sex and age

Nat Genet. 2016 Nov;48(11):1377-1384. doi: 10.1038/ng.3669. Epub 2016 Sep 19.


Meiotic recombination involves a combination of gene conversion and crossover events that, along with mutations, produce germline genetic diversity. Here we report the discovery of 3,176 SNP and 61 indel gene conversions. Our estimate of the non-crossover (NCO) gene conversion rate (G) is 7.0 for SNPs and 5.8 for indels per megabase per generation, and the GC bias is 67.6%. For indels, we demonstrate a 65.6% preference for the shorter allele. NCO gene conversions from mothers are longer than those from fathers, and G is 2.17 times greater in mothers. Notably, G increases with the age of mothers, but not the age of fathers. A disproportionate number of NCO gene conversions in older mothers occur outside double-strand break (DSB) regions and in regions with relatively low GC content. This points to age-related changes in the mechanisms of meiotic gene conversion in oocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Base Composition
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gene Conversion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Meiosis*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Sex Characteristics