Genomes of Ellobius species provide insight into the evolutionary dynamics of mammalian sex chromosomes

Eskeatnaf Mulugeta, Evelyne Wassenaar, Esther Sleddens - Linkels, Wilfred van Ijcken, E Heard, Anton Grootegoed, W Just, Joost Gribnau, Willy Baarends

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The X and Y sex chromosomes of placental mammals show hallmarks of a tumultuous evolutionary past. The X Chromosome has a rich and conserved gene content, while the Y Chromosome has lost most of its genes. In the Transcaucasian mole vole Ellobius lutescens, the Y Chromosome including Sry has been lost, and both females and males have a 17,X diploid karyotype. Similarly, the closely related Ellobius talpinus, has a 54,XX karyotype in both females and males. Here, we report the sequencing and assembly of the E. lutescens and E. talpinus genomes. The results indicate that the loss of the Y Chromosome in E. lutescens and E. talpinus occurred in two independent events. Four functional homologs of mouse Y-Chromosomal genes were detected in both female and male E. lutescens, of which three were also detected in the E. talpinus genome. One of these is Eif2s3y, known as the only Y-derived gene that is crucial for successful male meiosis. Female and male E. lutescens can carry one and the same X Chromosome with a largely conserved gene content, including all genes known to function in X Chromosome inactivation. The availability of the genomes of these mole vole species provides unique models to study the dynamics of sex chromosome evolution.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1202-1210
Number of pages9
JournalGenome Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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