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Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology


F. Grutzner A , A. Casey A and T. Daish A
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School of Molecular and Biomedical Science, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 22(9) 23-23
Published: 6 September 2010


Monotremes feature an extraordinarily complex sex chromosome system which shares extensive homology with bird sex chromosomes but no homology to sex chromosomes of other mammals (1,2,3). At meiotic prophase I the ten sex chromosomes in platypus (nine in echidna) assemble in a sex chromosome chain. We previously identified the multiple sex chromosomes in platypus and echidna that form the meiotic chain in males (1,2,4). We showed that sex chromosomes assembly in the chain in a specific order (5) and that they segregate alternately (1). In secondary spermatocytes we observed clustering of X and Y chromosomes in sperm (6). Our current research investigates the formation of the synaptonemal complex, recombination and meiotic silencing of monotreme sex chromosomes. Meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI) has been observed in eutherian mammals, marsupials and birds but has so far not been investigated experimentally in monotremes. We found that during pachytene the X5Y5 end of the chain closely associates with the nucleolus and accumulates repressive chromatin marks (e.g. histone variant mH2A). In contrast to the differential accumulation of mH2A we observe extensive loading of the cohesin SMC3 on sex chromosomes in particular during the pachytene stage of meiotic prophase I. We have also used markers of active transcription and gene expression analysis to investigate gene activity in platypus meiotic cells. I will discuss how these findings contribute to our current understanding of the meiotic organisation of monotreme sex chromosomes and the evolution of MSCI in birds and mammals.

(1) Grützner et al. (2004), Nature 432: 913–917.
(2) Rens et al. (2007), Genome Biology 16;8(11): R243.
(3) Veyrunes et al. (2008), Genome Research, 18(6): 995–1004.
(4) Rens et al. (2004), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 101 (46): 16 257–16 261.
(5) Daish et al. (2009), Reprod Fertil Dev. 21(8): 976–84.
(6) Tsend-Ayush et al. (2009), Chromosoma 118(1): 53–69.