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Reprod Fertil Dev. 2009;21(8):952-63. doi: 10.1071/RD09099.

Replication asynchrony and differential condensation of X chromosomes in female platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus).

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  • 1School of Molecular and Biomedical Science, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.


A common theme in the evolution of sex chromosomes is the massive loss of genes on the sex-specific chromosome (Y or W), leading to a gene imbalance between males (XY) and females (XX) in a male heterogametic species, or between ZZ and ZW in a female heterogametic species. Different mechanisms have evolved to compensate for this difference in dosage of X-borne genes between sexes. In therian mammals, one of the X chromosomes is inactivated, whereas bird dosage compensation is partial and gene-specific. In therian mammals, hallmarks of the inactive X are monoallelic gene expression, late DNA replication and chromatin condensation. Platypuses have five pairs of X chromosomes in females and five X and five Y chromosomes in males. Gene expression analysis suggests a more bird-like partial and gene-specific dosage compensation mechanism. We investigated replication timing and chromosome condensation of three of the five X chromosomes in female platypus. Our data suggest asynchronous replication of X-specific regions on X(1), X(3) and X(5) but show significantly different condensation between homologues for X(3) only, and not for X(1) or X(5). We discuss these results in relation to recent gene expression analysis of X-linked genes, which together give us insights into possible mechanisms of dosage compensation in platypus.

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