PRDM9 has recently been identified as a likely trans regulator of meiotic recombination hot spots in humans and mice1, 2, 3. PRDM9 contains a zinc finger array that, in humans, can recognize a short sequence motif associated with hot spots4, with binding to this motif possibly triggering hot-spot activity via chromatin remodeling5. We now report that human genetic variation at the PRDM9 locus has a strong effect on sperm hot-spot activity, even at hot spots lacking the sequence motif. Subtle changes within the zinc finger array can create hot-spot nonactivating or enhancing variants and can even trigger the appearance of a new hot spot, suggesting that PRDM9 is a major global regulator of hot spots in humans. Variation at the PRDM9 locus also influences aspects of genome instability—specifically, a megabase-scale rearrangement underlying two genomic disorders6 as well as minisatellite instability7—implicating PRDM9 as a risk factor for some pathological genome rearrangements.
At a glance
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- Supplementary Text and Figures (712K)
Supplementary Tables 1–3 and Supplementary Figures 1 and 2