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Chromosome Res. 2011 Aug;19(6):685-708. doi: 10.1007/s10577-011-9233-4. Epub 2011 Sep 27.

Anchoring the dog to its relatives reveals new evolutionary breakpoints across 11 species of the Canidae and provides new clues for the role of B chromosomes.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 1060 William Moore Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA.


The emergence of genome-integrated molecular cytogenetic resources allows for comprehensive comparative analysis of gross karyotype architecture across related species. The identification of evolutionarily conserved chromosome segment (ECCS) boundaries provides deeper insight into the process of chromosome evolution associated with speciation. We evaluated the genome-wide distribution and relative orientation of ECCSs in three wild canid species with diverse karyotypes (red fox, Chinese raccoon dog, and gray fox). Chromosome-specific panels of dog genome-integrated bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones spaced at ∼10-Mb intervals were used in fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis to construct integrated physical genome maps of these three species. Conserved evolutionary breakpoint regions (EBRs) shared between their karyotypes were refined across these and eight additional wild canid species using targeted BAC panels spaced at ∼1-Mb intervals. Our findings suggest that the EBRs associated with speciation in the Canidae are compatible with recent phylogenetic groupings and provide evidence that these breakpoints are also recurrently associated with spontaneous canine cancers. We identified several regions of domestic dog sequence that share homology with canid B chromosomes, including additional cancer-associated genes, suggesting that these supernumerary elements may represent more than inert passengers within the cell. We propose that the complex karyotype rearrangements associated with speciation of the Canidae reflect unstable chromosome regions described by the fragile breakage model.

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