, Volume 79, Issue 2, pp 137-157

First online:

Sex chromosome associated satellite DNA: Evolution and conservation

  • Lalji SinghAffiliated withInstitute of Animal Genetics, University of Edinburgh
  • , I. F. PurdomAffiliated withInstitute of Animal Genetics, University of Edinburgh
  • , K. W. JonesAffiliated withInstitute of Animal Genetics, University of Edinburgh

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Satellites visible in female but not in male DNA were isolated from the snakesElaphe radiata (satellite IV, p = 1.708 g · cm−3) andBungarus fasciatus (BK1 minor, p=1.709 g · cm−3). The satellites cross hybridize. Hybridization of3H labelled nick translated BK minor satellite DNA with the total male and female DNA and/or chromosomes in situ of different species of snakes revealed that its sequences are conserved throughout the snake group and are mainly concentrated on the W chromosome. Snakes lacking sex chromosomes do possess related sequences but there is no sex difference and visible related satellites are absent. The following conclusions have been reached on the basis of these results. 1. The W chromosome associated satellite DNA is related to similar sequences scattered in the genome. 2. The origin and increment in the number of the W satellite DNA sequence on the W chromosome is associated with the heterochromatinization of the W. 3. Satellite sequences have become distributed along the length of the W and resulted in morphological differentiation of sex chromosomes. 4. Evolutionary conservation of W satellite DNA strongly suggests that functional constraints may have limited sequence divergence.