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Genes 2018, 9(1), 27; doi:10.3390/genes9010027

Structural and Evolutionary Relationships in the Giant Sex Chromosomes of Three Microtus Species

Department of Experimental Biology, Faculty of Experimental Sciences, University of Jaén, Campus Las Lagunillas s/n, E-23071 Jaén, Spain
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Received: 16 November 2017 / Revised: 20 December 2017 / Accepted: 3 January 2018 / Published: 10 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Genetics and Genomics)
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Abstract

The genus Microtus has high karyotypic diversity. The existence of notable differences in the length of its sex chromosomes contributes to this variation. Variations in size are attributed to the enlargement of their heterochromatin content, which is of such magnitude in some species that they are referred to as “giant sex chromosomes”. Here, we perform an intra- and interspecific analysis of the molecular composition of the heterochromatic blocks in three species with giant sex chromosomes (Microtus chrotorrhinus, M. cabrerae and M. agrestis). Our results show that the heterochromatic content is very similar in both the X and Y chromosomes of M. chrotorrhinus, and that their molecular composition is more closely related to the heterochromatic blocks of M. agrestis than to the sex heterochromatin of M. cabrerae; however, species-specific differences do clearly exist. Interestingly, the euchromatic regions of the X chromosome of all three of these species share a homologous region composed of heterochromatic-related sequences. Our results therefore reinforce the idea that certain similarities in the original organization of these X chromosomes could have facilitated their later enlargement. View Full-Text
Keywords: Microtus; chromosome painting; giant sex chromosomes; sex chromosome heterochromatin; repeated DNA sequences Microtus; chromosome painting; giant sex chromosomes; sex chromosome heterochromatin; repeated DNA sequences
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Lamelas, L.; Arroyo, M.; Fernández, F.J.; Marchal, J.A.; Sánchez, A. Structural and Evolutionary Relationships in the Giant Sex Chromosomes of Three Microtus Species. Genes 2018, 9, 27.

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