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Open Access Research article

Genome-wide analysis of human hotspot intersected genes highlights the roles of meiotic recombination in evolution and disease

Tao Zhou, Zhibin Hu, Zuomin Zhou, Xuejiang Guo* and Jiahao Sha*

Author affiliations

State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine, Nanjing Medical University, 140 Hanzhong Road, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, 210029, People’s Republic of China

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2013, 14:67  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-67

Published: 31 January 2013



Meiotic recombination events are not randomly located, but rather cluster at hotspot regions. Recently, the fine-scale mapping of genome-wide human recombination hotspots was performed. Here, we systematically analyzed the evolutionary and disease-associated features of hotspots that overlapped with protein-coding genes.


In this study, we defined hotspot intersected genes as HI genes. We found that HI genes were prone to be located in the extracellular part and were functionally enriched in cell-to-cell communication. Tissue-specific genes and secreted protein encoding genes were overrepresented in HI genes, while housekeeping genes were underrepresented. Compared to slowly evolving housekeeping genes and random genes with lower recombination rates, HI genes evolved faster. The fact that brain and blood specific genes were overrepresented in HI genes indicates that they may be involved in the evolution of human intelligence and the immune system. We also found that genes related to disease were enriched in HI genes, especially genes with disease-associated chromosomal rearrangements. Hotspot sequence motifs were overrepresented in common sequences of HI genes and genes with disease-associated chromosomal rearrangements. We further listed repeat elements that were enriched both in hotspots and genes with disease-associated chromosomal rearrangements.


HI genes are evolving and may be involved in the generation of key features of human during evolution. Disease-associated genes may be by-products of meiotic recombination. In addition, hotspot sequence motifs and repeat elements showed the connection between meiotic recombination and genes with disease-associated chromosomal rearrangements at the sequence level. Our study will enable us to better understand the evolutionary and biological significance of human meiotic recombination.

Meiotic recombination; Recombination hotspots; Evolution; Disease; Chromosomal rearrangements; Repeat element