Sex chromosome silencing in the marsupial male germ line.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 07/2007; 104(23):9730-5. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0700323104
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In marsupials, dosage compensation involves silencing of the father's X-chromosome. Because no XIST orthologue has been found, how imprinted X-inactivation occurs is unknown. In eutherians, the X is subject to meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI) in the paternal germ line and persists thereafter as postmeiotic sex chromatin (PMSC). One hypothesis proposes that the paternal X is inherited by the eutherian zygote as a preinactive X and raises the possibility of a similar process in the marsupial germ line. Here we demonstrate that MSCI and PMSC occur in the opossum. Surprisingly, silencing occurs before X-Y association. After MSCI, the X and Y fuse through a dense plate without obvious synapsis. Significantly, sex chromosome silencing continues after meiosis, with the opossum PMSC sharing features of eutherian PMSC. These results reveal a common gametogenic program in two diverse clades of mammals and support the idea that male germ-line silencing may have provided an ancestral form of mammalian dosage compensation.

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