Comparison of the Z and W sex chromosomal architectures in elegant crested tinamou (Eudromia elegans) and ostrich (Struthio camelus) and the process of sex chromosome differentiation in palaeognathous birds
To clarify the process of avian sex chromosome differentiation in palaeognathous birds, we performed molecular and cytogenetic characterization of W chromosome-specific repetitive DNA sequences for elegant crested tinamou (Eudromia elegans, Tinamiformes) and constructed comparative cytogenetic maps of the Z and W chromosomes with nine chicken Z-linked gene homologues for E. elegans and ostrich (Struthio camelus, Struthioniformes). A novel family of W-specific repetitive sequences isolated from E. elegans was found to be composed of guanine- and cytosine-rich 293-bp elements that were tandemly arrayed in the genome as satellite DNA. No nucleotide sequence homologies were found for the Struthioniformes and neognathous birds. The comparative cytogenetic maps of the Z and W chromosomes of E. elegans and S. camelus revealed that there are partial deletions in the proximal regions of the W chromosomes in the two species, and the W chromosome is more differentiated in E. elegans than in S. camelus. These results suggest that a deletion firstly occurred in the proximal region close to the centromere of the acrocentric proto-W chromosome and advanced toward the distal region. In E. elegans, the W-specific repeated sequence elements were amplified site-specifically after deletion of a large part of the W chromosome occurred.
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