, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 985-987
Date: 26 Sep 2007

MHM assay: molecular sexing based on the sex-specific methylation pattern of the MHM region in chickens

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Bird sex determination using molecular methods has proved to be a valuable tool in different studies. Although it is possible to sex most birds by coupling the CHD assay with others available methods, no sex-determining gene like SRY in mammalians has been identified in birds. The male hypermethylated (MHM) region on the Z chromosome has been found to be hypermethylated in males and hypomethylated in females in birds of the order Galliformes. We analyzed the DNA from feathers of 50 adult chickens to verify the methylation pattern of the MHM region by PCR and the restriction enzyme HpaII (a method named MHM assay). The results, visualized in agarose gel, were compared with PCR amplification of the CHD-Z and CHD-W genes (polyacrylamide gel) and with the birds’ phenotype. All males (25) showed hypermethylation of the MHM region, and all females (25) showed hypomethylation. The sexing by MHM assay was in according with phenotype and CHD sexing. To our knowledge, this is the first study that uses the MHM region for sexing birds. Although the real role of the MHM region in the sex determination is still unclear, this could be a universal marker for sexing birds and may be involved in sex determination by its influence on transcriptional processes. The MHM assay could be a good alternative for CHD assay in developmental studies.