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Finding recombination hotspots

Mathematical method valid at low and fine resolution, but use for disease mapping doubted

Cathy Holding(cathyholding@aol.com)

A new algorithm for revealing recombination hotspots, reported in the April 23 Science, has found that most recombination occurs outside genes. The mathematical method will be important in understanding the nature of recombination, according to the paper's authors. But others feel that claims that it will aid in mapping disease loci are unjustified.

“If we have a better sense of the way in which recombination rates go up and down in various places across the genome, we have a hope of learning more about the molecular mechanisms involved,” said Peter Donnelly, coauthor of the paper and professor in the Department of Statistics at Oxford University.

Donnelly told The Scientist that the team's algorithm revealed that recombination occurs, on average, once every 200 kilobase pairs, with up to four-fold increases in frequency in these hotspots.

The method will enable comparison of recombination frequency in sequence motifs between species to...

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