To assess whether the pattern of high rates of genome rearrangement, with a bias towards within-chromosome events is true of nematodes in general, genome sequence was used to compare the model Caenorhabditis elegans and the filarial parasite Brugia malayi. It is suggested that intrachromosomal rearrangement is a major force driving chromosomal organization in nematodes.
Comparisons between the genomes of the closely related nematodes Caenorhabditis elegans and Caenorhabditis briggsae reveal high rates of rearrangement, with a bias towards within-chromosome events. To assess whether this pattern is true of nematodes in general, we have used genome sequence to compare two nematode species that last shared a common ancestor approximately 300 million years ago: the model C. elegans and the filarial parasite Brugia malayi.
An 83 kb region flanking the gene for Bm-mif-1 (macrophage migration inhibitory factor, a B. malayi homolog of a human cytokine) was sequenced. When compared to the complete genome of C. elegans, evidence for conservation of long-range synteny and microsynteny was found. Potential C. elegans orthologs for II of the 12 protein-coding genes predicted in the B. malayi sequence were identified. Ten of these orthologs were located on chromosome I, with eight clustered in a 2.3 Mb region. While several, relatively local, intrachromosomal rearrangements have occurred, the order, composition, and configuration of two gene clusters, each containing three genes, was conserved. Comparison of B. malayi BAC-end genome survey sequence to C. elegans also revealed a bias towards intrachromosome rearrangements.
We suggest that intrachromosomal rearrangement is a major force driving chromosomal organization in nematodes, but is constrained by the interdigitation of functional elements of neighboring genes.