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Genes 2011, 2(1), 48-58; doi:10.3390/genes2010048

Genetic Diversification by Somatic Gene Conversion

Department of Life Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Komaba 3-8-1, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 October 2010 / Revised: 14 December 2010 / Accepted: 15 December 2010 / Published: 10 January 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gene Conversion in Duplicated Genes)
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Gene conversion is a type of homologous recombination that leads to transfer of genetic information among homologous DNA sequences. It can be categorized into two classes: homogenizing and diversifying gene conversions. The former class results in neutralization and homogenization of any sequence variation among repetitive DNA sequences, and thus is important for concerted evolution. On the other hand, the latter functions to increase genetic diversity at the recombination-recipient loci. Thus, these two types of gene conversion play opposite roles in genome dynamics. Diversifying gene conversion is observed in the immunoglobulin (Ig) loci of chicken, rabbit, and other animals, and directs the diversification of Ig variable segments and acquisition of functional Ig repertoires. This type of gene conversion is initiated by the biased occurrence of recombination initiation events (e.g., DNA single- or double-strand breaks) on the recipient DNA site followed by unidirectional homologous recombination from multiple template sequences. Transcription and DNA accessibility is also important in the regulation of biased recombination initiation. In this review, we will discuss the biological significance and possible mechanisms of diversifying gene conversion in somatic cells of eukaryotes.
Keywords: immunoglobulin locus; gene conversion; DNA break; recombination immunoglobulin locus; gene conversion; DNA break; recombination
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Kurosawa, K.; Ohta, K. Genetic Diversification by Somatic Gene Conversion. Genes 2011, 2, 48-58.

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