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Conservation of long-range synteny and microsynteny between the genomes of two distantly related nematodes

DB Guiliano1, N Hall2, SJM Jones3, LN Clark2, CH Corton2, BG Barrell2 and ML Blaxter1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK

2 Pathogen Sequencing Unit, The Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge CB10 1SA, UK

3 Genome Sequence Centre, British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, Vancouver V5Z 4E6, Canada

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Genome Biology 2002, 3:research0057-research0057.14  doi:10.1186/gb-2002-3-10-research0057

Published: 26 September 2002



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.