Fine-scale maps of recombination rates and hotspots in the mouse genome

Date Published:

2012 Jul


Recombination events are not uniformly distributed and often cluster in narrow regions known as recombination hotspots. Several studies using different approaches have dramatically advanced our understanding of recombination hotspot regulation. Population genetic data have been used to map and quantify hotspots in the human genome. Genetic variation in recombination rates and hotspots usage have been explored in human pedigrees, mouse intercrosses, and by sperm typing. These studies pointed to the central role of the PRDM9 gene in hotspot modulation. In this study, we used single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from whole-genome resequencing and genotyping studies of mouse inbred strains to estimate recombination rates across the mouse genome and identified 47,068 historical hotspots--an average of over 2477 per chromosome. We show by simulation that inbred mouse strains can be used to identify positions of historical hotspots. Recombination hotspots were found to be enriched for the predicted binding sequences for different alleles of the PRDM9 protein. Recombination rates were on average lower near transcription start sites (TSS). Comparing the inferred historical recombination hotspots with the recent genome-wide mapping of double-strand breaks (DSBs) in mouse sperm revealed a significant overlap, especially toward the telomeres. Our results suggest that inbred strains can be used to characterize and study the dynamics of historical recombination hotspots. They also strengthen previous findings on mouse recombination hotspots, and specifically the impact of sequence variants in Prdm9.