, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 43–62 | Cite as

Satellite DNA and evolution of sex chromosomes

  • L. Singh
  • I. F. Purdom
  • K. W. Jones


The satellite DNA (satellite III) which is mainly represented in the female of Elaphe radiata (Ophidia, Colubridae) has been isolated and its buoyant density has been determined (ϱ=1.700 g cm−3). In situ hybridisation of radioactive complementary RNA of this satellite DNA with the chromosomes of different species has revealed that it is mainly concentrated on the W sex chromosome and its sequences are conserved throughout the sub-order Ophidia. From hybridisation studies these sequences are absent from the primitive family Boidae which represents a primitive state of differentiation of sex chromosomes. Chromosome analysis and C-banding have also revealed the absence of heteromorphism and of an entirely heterochromatic chromosome in the species belonging to the primitive family and their presence in the species of highly evolved families. It is suggested that the origin of satellite DNA (satellite III) in the W chromosome is the first step in differentiation of W from the Z in snakes by generating asynchrony in the DNA replication pattern of Z and W chromosomes and thus conceivably reducing the frequency of crossing-over between them which is the prerequisite of differentiation of sex chromosomes. Presence of similar sex chromosome associated satellite DNA in domestic chicken suggests its existence in a wider range of vertebrates than just the snakes.


Developmental Biology Chromosome Analysis Hybridisation Study Buoyant Density Primitive State 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Singh
    • 1
  • I. F. Purdom
    • 1
  • K. W. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Animal GeneticsUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland

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