I can’t quite understand the way inversions are defined. In particular I expect an inversion to be only a reversed version of the reference and not its reverse complement. Most sources use diagrams such as below which totally obscure the fact that it is also complemented.

enter image description here

Could someone provide an explanation on what causes an inversion and why it is defined the way it is?


1 Answer 1


If an inversion were just reversed then there would be 3' -> 3' bonds and 5' -> 5' bonds. That's why inversions are reverse complemented, you then maintain the normal 5'->3' direction. This is nicely covered over on our biology sister site, which also includes this image:

DNA inversion

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the link. The image you posted made it clear for me. The key is to look at both strands at the same time. $\endgroup$
    – Paghillect
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 20:55

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