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Genetika. 2010 Oct;46(10):1314-9.

The unique sex chromosome system in platypus and echidna.

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Cambridge Resource Centre for Comparative Genomics, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge CB3 0ES, UK.


A striking example of the power of chromosome painting has been the resolution of the male platypus karyotype and the pairing relationships of the chain often sex chromosomes. We have extended our analysis to the nine sex chromosomes of the male echidna. Cross-species painting with platypus shows that the first five chromosomes in the chain are identical in both, but the order of the remainder are different and, in each species, a different autosome replaces one of the five X chromosomes. As the therian X is homologous mainly to platypus autosome 6 and echidna 16, and as SRY is absent in both, the sex determination mechanism in monotremes is currently unknown. Several of the X and Y chromosomes contain genes orthologous to those in the avian Z but the significance of this is also unknown. It seems likely that a novel testis determinant is carried by a Y chromosome common to platypus and echidna. We have searched for candidates for this determinant among the many genes known to be involved in vertebrate sex differentiation. So far fourteen such genes have been mapped, eleven are autosomal in platypus, two map to the differential regions of X chromosomes, and one maps to a pairing segment and is likewise excluded. Search for the platypus testis-determining gene continues, and the extension of comparative mapping between platypus and birds and reptiles may shed light on the ancestral origin of monotreme sex chromosomes.

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