Evolutionary breakpoints in the gibbon suggest association between cytosine methylation and karyotype evolution

Lucia Carbone, R. Alan Harris, Gery M. Vessere, Alan R. Mootnick, Sean Humphray, Jane Rogers, Sung K. Kim, Jeffrey D. Wall, David Martin, Jerzy Jurka, Aleksandar Milosavljevic, Pieter J. De Jong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Gibbon species have accumulated an unusually high number of chromosomal changes since diverging from the common hominoid ancestor 15-18 million years ago. The cause of this increased rate of chromosomal rearrangements is not known, nor is it known if genome architecture has a role. To address this question, we analyzed sequences spanning 57 breaks of synteny between northern white-cheeked gibbons (Nomascus l. leucogenys) and humans. We find that the breakpoint regions are enriched in segmental duplications and repeats, with Alu elements being the most abundant. Alus located near the gibbon breakpoints (<150 bp) have a higher CpG content than other Alus. Bisulphite allelic sequencing reveals that these gibbon Alus have a lower average density of methylated cytosine that their human orthologues. The finding of higher CpG content and lower average CpG methylation suggests that the gibbon Alu elements are epigenetically distinct from their human orthologues. The association between undermethylation and chromosomal rearrangement in gibbons suggests a correlation between epigenetic state and structural genome variation in evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000538
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Evolutionary breakpoints in the gibbon suggest association between cytosine methylation and karyotype evolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this