Paper in ScienceAdvances


Science Advances paper about deeply conserved synteny of metazoan chromosomes by Oleg Simakov et al.

Animal genomes show networks of deeply conserved gene linkages whose phylogenetic scope and chromosomal context remain unclear. Here, we report chromosome-scale conservation of synteny among bilaterians, cnidarians, and sponges and use comparative analysis to reconstruct ancestral chromosomes across major animal groups. Comparisons among diverse metazoans reveal the processes of chromosome evolution that produced contemporary karyotypes from their Precambrian progenitors. On the basis of these findings, we introduce a simple algebraic representation of chromosomal change and use it to establish a unified systematic framework for metazoan chromosome evolution. We find that fusion-with-mixing, a previously unappreciated mode of chromosome change, has played a central role. We find that relicts of several metazoan chromosomal units are preserved in unicellular eukaryotes. These conserved pre-metazoan linkages include the chromosomal unit that encodes the most diverse set of metazoan homeobox genes, suggesting a candidate genomic context for the early diversification of this key gene family.

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