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Chromosome Res. 2008;16(1):17-39. doi: 10.1007/s10577-007-1209-z.

Primate chromosome evolution: ancestral karyotypes, marker order and neocentromeres.

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Department of Animal Biology and Genetics, Laboratory of Anthropology, Via del Proconsolo 12, 50122, Florence, Italy.


In 1992 the Japanese macaque was the first species for which the homology of the entire karyotype was established by cross-species chromosome painting. Today, there are chromosome painting data on more than 50 species of primates. Although chromosome painting is a rapid and economical method for tracking translocations, it has limited utility for revealing intrachromosomal rearrangements. Fortunately, the use of BAC-FISH in the last few years has allowed remarkable progress in determining marker order along primate chromosomes and there are now marker order data on an array of primate species for a good number of chromosomes. These data reveal inversions, but also show that centromeres of many orthologous chromosomes are embedded in different genomic contexts. Even if the mechanisms of neocentromere formation and progression are just beginning to be understood, it is clear that these phenomena had a significant impact on shaping the primate genome and are fundamental to our understanding of genome evolution. In this report we complete and integrate the dataset of BAC-FISH marker order for human syntenies 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22 and the X. These results allowed us to develop hypotheses about the content, marker order and centromere position in ancestral karyotypes at five major branching points on the primate evolutionary tree: ancestral primate, ancestral anthropoid, ancestral platyrrhine, ancestral catarrhine and ancestral hominoid. Current models suggest that between-species structural rearrangements are often intimately related to speciation. Comparative primate cytogenetics has become an important tool for elucidating the phylogeny and the taxonomy of primates. It has become increasingly apparent that molecular cytogenetic data in the future can be fruitfully combined with whole-genome assemblies to advance our understanding of primate genome evolution as well as the mechanisms and processes that have led to the origin of the human genome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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