The role played by gene transpositions during the evolution of eukaryotic genomes is still poorly understood and indeed has been analyzed in detail only in nematodes. In Drosophila, a limited number of transpositions have been detected by comparing the chromosomal location of genes between different species. The relative importance of gene transposition versus other types of chromosomal rearrangements, for example, inversions, has not yet been evaluated. Here, we use physical mapping to perform an extensive search for long-distance gene transpositions and assess their impact during the evolution of the Drosophila genome. We compare the relative order of 297 molecular markers that cover 60% of the euchromatic fraction of the genome between two related Drosophila species and conclude that the frequency of gene transpositions is very low, namely one order of magnitude lower than that of nematodes. In addition, gene transpositions seem to be events almost exclusively associated with genes of repetitive nature such as the Histone gene complex (HIS-C).
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Vol. 57 • No. 6