Selection against Robertsonian fusions involving housekeeping genes in the house mouse: Integrating data from gene expression arrays and chromosome evolution
Monobrachial homology resulting from Robertsonian (Rb) fusions is thought to contribute to chromosomal speciation through underdominance. Given the karyotypic diversity characterizing wild house mouse populations [Mus musculus domesticus, (MMU)], variation that results almost exclusively from Rb fusions (diploid numbers range from 22 to 40) and possibly whole arm reciprocal translocations (WARTs), this organism represents an excellent model for testing hypotheses of chromosomal evolution. Previous studies of chromosome size and recombination rates have failed to explain the bias for certain chromosomes to be involved more frequently than others in these rearrangements. Here, we show that the pericentromeric region of one such chromosome, MMU19, which is infrequently encountered as a fusion partner in wild populations, is significantly enriched for housekeeping genes when compared to other chromosomes in the genome. These data suggest that there is selection against breakpoints in the pericentromeric region and provide new insights into factors that constrain chromosomal reorganizations in house mice. Given the anticipated increase in vertebrate whole genome sequences, the examination of gene content and expression profiles of the pericentromeric regions of other mammalian lineages characterized by Rb fusions (i.e., other rodents, bats, and bovids, among others) is both achievable and crucial to developing broadly applicable models of chromosome evolution. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.