Reconstruction and evolutionary history of eutherian chromosomes

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Jul 3;114(27):E5379-E5388. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1702012114. Epub 2017 Jun 19.


Whole-genome assemblies of 19 placental mammals and two outgroup species were used to reconstruct the order and orientation of syntenic fragments in chromosomes of the eutherian ancestor and six other descendant ancestors leading to human. For ancestral chromosome reconstructions, we developed an algorithm (DESCHRAMBLER) that probabilistically determines the adjacencies of syntenic fragments using chromosome-scale and fragmented genome assemblies. The reconstructed chromosomes of the eutherian, boreoeutherian, and euarchontoglires ancestor each included >80% of the entire length of the human genome, whereas reconstructed chromosomes of the most recent common ancestor of simians, catarrhini, great apes, and humans and chimpanzees included >90% of human genome sequence. These high-coverage reconstructions permitted reliable identification of chromosomal rearrangements over ∼105 My of eutherian evolution. Orangutan was found to have eight chromosomes that were completely conserved in homologous sequence order and orientation with the eutherian ancestor, the largest number for any species. Ruminant artiodactyls had the highest frequency of intrachromosomal rearrangements, and interchromosomal rearrangements dominated in murid rodents. A total of 162 chromosomal breakpoints in evolution of the eutherian ancestral genome to the human genome were identified; however, the rate of rearrangements was significantly lower (0.80/My) during the first ∼60 My of eutherian evolution, then increased to greater than 2.0/My along the five primate lineages studied. Our results significantly expand knowledge of eutherian genome evolution and will facilitate greater understanding of the role of chromosome rearrangements in adaptation, speciation, and the etiology of inherited and spontaneously occurring diseases.

Keywords: ancestral genome reconstruction; chromosome evolution; genome rearrangements.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage
  • Chromosome Breakpoints
  • Chromosomes / ultrastructure*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Eutheria / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Rearrangement
  • Genome
  • Genome, Human
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Phylogeny
  • Software
  • Synteny