Gene conversion involves nonreciprocal transfer of genetic information (during meiosis) in which gene sequences are copied across into a homologous DNA sequence during recombination. Holliday suggested that gene conversion may be explained by repair of heteroduplex DNA.

Whereas somatic hypermutation generates single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), a somatic gene conversion-like mechanisms diversify antibodies by switching part of its antigen-binding region for a replacement gene segment. Inter- and intraspecies variations occur in preference for hypermutation versus a somatic gene conversion-like mechanism. The B-cells in chickens employ a somatic gene conversion-like mechanisms until adolescence, at which time the cells move from the hindgut bursa of Fabricus to the spleen and somatic hypermutation predominates.

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