Late Replicating Domains Are Highly Recombining in Females but Have Low Male Recombination Rates: Implications for Isochore Evolution

Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 09/2011; 6(9):e24480. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024480
Source: PubMed


In mammals sequences that are either late replicating or highly recombining have high rates of evolution at putatively neutral sites. As early replicating domains and highly recombining domains both tend to be GC rich we a priori expect these two variables to covary. If so, the relative contribution of either of these variables to the local neutral substitution rate might have been wrongly estimated owing to covariance with the other. Against our expectations, we find that sex-averaged recombination rates show little or no correlation with replication timing, suggesting that they are independent determinants of substitution rates. However, this result masks significant sex-specific complexity: late replicating domains tend to have high recombination rates in females but low recombination rates in males. That these trends are antagonistic explains why sex-averaged recombination is not correlated with replication timing. This unexpected result has several important implications. First, although both male and female recombination rates covary significantly with intronic substitution rates, the magnitude of this correlation is moderately underestimated for male recombination and slightly overestimated for female recombination, owing to covariance with replicating timing. Second, the result could explain why male recombination is strongly correlated with GC content but female recombination is not. If to explain the correlation between GC content and replication timing we suppose that late replication forces reduced GC content, then GC promotion by biased gene conversion during female recombination is partly countered by the antagonistic effect of later replicating sequence tending increase AT content. Indeed, the strength of the correlation between female recombination rate and local GC content is more than doubled by control for replication timing. Our results underpin the need to consider sex-specific recombination rates and potential covariates in analysis of GC content and rates of evolution.

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