Cell division involves the distribution of identical genetic material, DNA, to two daughters’ cells. During this process, duplicated deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) goes through a condensation and decondensation process. This is followed by nuclear envelope dissolution, mitotic spindle assembly, migration of the sister chromatid pairs to the metaphase plate, division and segregation of identical sets of chromosomes into daughter nuclei and nuclear envelope reformation.
The vital metaphase stage of cell division, when the sister chromatids migrated to the centre and lined up in a row, and pulled apart using attached microtubules in such a way that half the DNA ends up in each daughter cell. However, before the mitotic spindle‐mediated movement gets start and pulled DNA apart, the chromosomes are free to undergo recombination which involves the exchange of genetic material either between multiple chromosomes or between different regions of the same chromosome.
During recombination, the precise breakage of each strand, exchange between the strands, and sealing of the resulting recombined molecules happens. The “chromosomal breakpoints” refers to these places where they break. Mostly, this process occurs with a high degree of accuracy at high frequency in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. But occasionally this “break and sealing/ break and reattach” process goes wrong and the reattachment happens in the wrong place which usually create disaster (with few exceptions).These chromosome disaster or abnormalities involve the gain, loss or rearrangement of visible amounts of genetic material during cell division. These abnormalities are of two type, the first one is numerical abnormalities where severe disorders are caused by the loss or gain of whole chromosomes, which affect the copy number of hundreds or even thousands of genes. The second are structural abnormalities which can be unbalanced or balanced. The former are similar to numerical abnormalities in that genetic material is either gained or lost. The natural defects in chromosome segregation are linked to cancer and several genetic diseases (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_genetic_disorders. Therefore, the enzymes involved in regulating cell division are still the attractive drug targets for many diseases.
Apart from certain chromosome abnormalities, these “crossing over” of segments of maternal and paternal chromosomes to form hybrid chromosomes have some evolutionary importance and considered as a driver of genetic variation. Moreover, the chromosome breakage in evolution is considered to be non-random in nature(http://www.ploscompbiol.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pcbi.0020014. In addition the study of breakpoint regions and non-breakpoint (stable) regions of chromosomes indicates both the regions evolved in distinctly different ways ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2675965/. These breakage may lead to genetic diseases or participate to chromosomal rearranmgnets and contributed in development of new species.
I will try to explain the genome hotspots/Evolutionary Breakpoint Regions(EBRs)/fragile regions/weak fragments/ in my next blog.
Software for recombination detection:
Image: Wikipedia , sciencelearn.org.nz