Mammalian Genome

, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 418–422

Comparative chromosome painting between two marsupials: origins of an XX/XY1Y2 sex chromosome system


  • Roland Toder
    • School of Genetics and Human VariationLa Trobe University, Kingsbury Drive
  • Rachel J. W. O’Neill
    • School of Genetics and Human VariationLa Trobe University, Kingsbury Drive
  • Johannes Wienberg
    • Department of PathologyCambridge University
  • Patricia C. M. O’Brien
    • Department of PathologyCambridge University
  • Lucille Voullaire
    • The Murdoch InstituteRoyal Children’s Hospital
  • Jennifer A. Marshall-Graves
    • School of Genetics and Human VariationLa Trobe University, Kingsbury Drive
Original Contribution

DOI: 10.1007/s003359900459

Cite this article as:
Toder, R., O’Neill, R.J.W., Wienberg, J. et al. Mammalian Genome (1997) 8: 418. doi:10.1007/s003359900459


Cross-species chromosome painting was used to investigate genome rearrangements between tammar wallaby Macropus eugenii (2n = 16) and the swamp wallaby Wallabia bicolor (2n = 10♀/11♂), which diverged about 6 million years ago. The swamp wallaby has an XX female:XY1Y2 male sex chromosome system thought to have resulted from a fusion between an autosome and the small original X, not involving the Y. Thus, the small Y1 should represent the original Y and the large Y2 the original autosome. DNA paints were prepared from flow-sorted and micro-dissected chromosomes from the tammar wallaby. Painting swamp wallaby spreads with each tammar chromosome-specific probe gave extremely strong and clear signals in single-, two-, and three-color FISH. These showed that two tammar wallaby autosomes are represented unchanged in the swamp wallaby, two are represented by different centric fusions, and one by a tandem fusion to make the very long arms of swamp wallaby Chromosome (Chr) 1. The large swamp wallaby X comprises the tammar X as its short arm, and a tandemly fused 7 and 2 as the long arm. The acrocentric swamp wallaby Y2 is a 2/7 fusion, homologous with the long arm of the X. The small swamp wallaby Y1 is confirmed as the original Y by its painting with the tammar Y. However, the presence of sequences shared between the microdissected tammar Xp and Y on the swamp wallaby Y2 implies that the formation of the compound sex chromosomes involved addition of autosome(s) to both the original X and Y. We propose that this involved fusion with an ancient pseudoautosomal region followed by fission proximal to this shared region.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997