This paper was published as Nature Genetics, 2009, 41 (5), pp. 625-629. It is available from http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v41/n5/full/ng.346.html#B4. Doi: 10.1038/ng.346Metadata only entryHuman meiotic crossovers mainly cluster into narrow hot spots that profoundly influence patterns of haplotype diversity and that may also affect genome instability and sequence evolution. Hot spots also seem to be ephemeral, but processes of hot-spot activation and their subsequent evolutionary dynamics remain unknown. We now analyze the life cycle of a recombination hot spot. Sperm typing revealed a polymorphic hot spot that was activated in cis by a single base change, providing evidence for a primary sequence determinant necessary, though not sufficient, to activate recombination. This activating mutation occurred roughly 70,000 y ago and has persisted to the present, most likely fortuitously through genetic drift despite its systematic elimination by biased gene conversion. Nonetheless, this self-destructive conversion will eventually lead to hot-spot extinction. These findings define a subclass of highly transient hot spots and highlight the importance of understanding hot-spot turnover and how it influences haplotype diversity
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