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Transvection (genetics)

Transvection is an epigenetic phenomenon that results from an interaction between an allele on one chromosome and the corresponding allele on the homologous chromosome. Transvection can lead to either gene activation or repression. Formally (see quote from Lewis, below), it can also occur between nonallelic regions of the genome as well as regions of the genome that are not transcribed.

Edward B. Lewis at Caltech discovered transvection at the bithorax complex in Drosophila in the 1950s. Since then, transvection has been observed at a number of additional loci in Drosophila, including white, decapentaplegic, eyes absent, vestigial, and yellow. As stated by Ed Lewis, "Operationally, transvection is occurring if the phenotype of a given genotype can be altered solely by disruption of somatic (or meiotic) pairing. Such disruption can generally be accomplished by introduction of a heterozygous rearrangement that disrupts pairing in the relevant region but has no position effect of its own on the phenotype" (cited in Wu and Morris 1999). Recently, pairing-mediated phenomena have been observed in species other than Drosophila, including mice, humans, plants, nematodes, insects, and fungi. In light of these findings, transvection may represent a potent and widespread form of gene regulation.

Interestingly, transvection appears to be dependent upon chromosome pairing. In some cases, if one allele is placed on a different chromosome by a translocation, transvection does not occur. Transvection can sometimes be restored in a translocation homozygote, where both alleles may once again be able to pair. Restoration of phenotype has been observed at bithorax, decapentaplegic, eyes absent, and vestigial, and with transgenes of white. In some cases, transvection between two alleles leads to intragenic complementation while disruption of transvection disrupts the complementation.

Transvection is believed to occur through a variety of mechanisms. In one mechanism, the enhancers of one allele activate the promoter of a paired second allele. Other mechanisms include pairing-sensitive silencing and enhancer bypass of a chromatin insulator through pairing-mediated changes in gene structure.


1. Lewis, E. B., 1954 The theory and application of a new method of detecting chromosomal rearrangements in Drosphila melanogaster. The American Naturalist 88: 225-239.

2. Duncan, I. W., 2002 Transvection effects in Drosophila. Annu Rev Genet 36: 521-556.

3. Stevens N. M., 1908 A study of the germ cells of certain Diptera with reference to the heterochromosomes and the phenomena of synapsis. J Exp Zool 5: 359-374.

4. Kennison, J. A., and Southworth, J. W, 2002 Transvection in Drosophila. Adv Genet 46: 399-420.

5. Pirrotta V., 1999 Transvection and chromosomal trans-interaction effects. Biochim Biophys Acta 1424: M1-8.

6. McKee, B. D. 2004 Homologous pairing and chromosome dynamics in meiosis and mitosis. Biochim Biophys Acta 1677: 165-80.

7. Wu, C.-t., and Morris, J. R. 1999 Transvection and other homology effects. Curr Opin Genet Dev 9: 237-246.

See also

  • Complementation (genetics)
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Transvection_(genetics)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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