Paul D Waters

Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

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Publications (46)334.16 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Y chromosomes underlie sex determination in mammals, but their repeat-rich nature has hampered sequencing and associated evolutionary studies. Here we trace Y evolution across 15 representative mammals on the basis of high-throughput genome and transcriptome sequencing. We uncover three independent sex chromosome originations in mammals and birds (the outgroup). The original placental and marsupial (therian) Y, containing the sex-determining gene SRY, emerged in the therian ancestor approximately 180 million years ago, in parallel with the first of five monotreme Y chromosomes, carrying the probable sex-determining gene AMH. The avian W chromosome arose approximately 140 million years ago in the bird ancestor. The small Y/W gene repertoires, enriched in regulatory functions, were rapidly defined following stratification (recombination arrest) and erosion events and have remained considerably stable. Despite expression decreases in therians, Y/W genes show notable conservation of proto-sex chromosome expression patterns, although various Y genes evolved testis-specificities through differential regulatory decay. Thus, although some genes evolved novel functions through spatial/temporal expression shifts, most Y genes probably endured, at least initially, because of dosage constraints.
    Nature 04/2014; 508(7497):488-93. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: X chromosome inactivation in eutherian mammals has been thought to be tightly controlled, as expected from a mechanism that compensates for the different dosage of X-borne genes in XX females and XY males. However, many X genes escape inactivation in humans, inactivation of the X in marsupials is partial, and the unrelated sex chromosomes of monotreme mammals have incomplete and gene-specific inactivation of X-linked genes. The bird ZW sex chromosome system represents a third independently evolved amniote sex chromosome system with dosage compensation, albeit partial and gene-specific, via an unknown mechanism (i.e. upregulation of the single Z in females, down regulation of one or both Zs in males, or a combination). We used RNA-fluorescent in situ hybridization (RNA-FISH) to demonstrate, on individual fibroblast cells, inactivation of 11 genes on the chicken Z and 28 genes on the X chromosomes of platypus. Each gene displayed a reproducible frequency of 1Z/1X-active and 2Z/2X-active cells in the homogametic sex. Our results indicate that the probability of inactivation is controlled on a gene-by-gene basis (or small domains) on the chicken Z and platypus X chromosomes. This regulatory mechanism must have been exapted independently to the non-homologous sex chromosomes in birds and mammals in response to an over-expressed Z or X in the homogametic sex, highlighting the universal importance that (at least partial) silencing plays in the evolution on amniote dosage compensation and, therefore, the differentiation of sex chromosomes.
    PLoS Genetics 07/2013; 9(7):e1003635. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although more than thirty mammalian genomes have been sequenced to draft quality, very few of these include the Y chromosome. This has limited our understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of gene persistence and loss, our ability to identify conserved regulatory elements, as well our knowledge of the extent to which different types of selection act to maintain genes within this unique genomic environment. Here we present the first MSY (male-specific region of the Y chromosome) sequences from two carnivores, the domestic dog and cat. By combining these with other available MSY data, our multi-ordinal comparison allows for the first accounting of levels of selection constraining the evolution of eutherian Y chromosomes. Despite gene gain and loss across the phylogeny, we show the eutherian ancestor retained a core set of 15 MSY genes, most being constrained by negative selection for nearly 100 million years (My). The X-degenerate and ampliconic gene classes are partitioned into distinct chromosomal domains in most mammals, but were radically restructured on the human lineage. We identified multiple conserved non-coding elements that potentially regulate eutherian MSY genes. The acquisition of novel ampliconic gene families was accompanied by signatures of positive selection, and has differentially impacted the degeneration and expansion of MSY gene repertoires in different species.
    Genome Research 06/2013; · 14.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: There is growing recognition that horizontal DNA transfer, a process known to be common in prokaryotes, is also a significant source of genomic variation in eukaryotes. Horizontal transfer of transposable elements (HTT) may be especially prevalent in eukaryotes given the inherent mobility, widespread occurrence, and prolific abundance of these elements in many eukaryotic genomes. RESULTS: Here, we provide evidence for a new case of HTT of the transposon family OposCharlie1 (OC1) in the Tasmanian devil, Sarcophilus harrisii. Bioinformatic analyses of OC1 sequences in the Tasmanian devil genome suggest that this transposon infiltrated the common ancestor of the Dasyuridae family ~17 million years ago. This estimate is corroborated by a PCR-based screen for the presence/absence of this family in Tasmanian devils and closely-related species. CONCLUSIONS: This case of HTT is the first to be reported in dasyurids. It brings the number of animal lineages independently invaded by OC1 to 12, and adds a fourth continent to the pandemic-like pattern of invasion of this transposon. In the context of these data, we discuss the evolutionary history of this transposon family and its potential impact on the diversification of marsupials.
    BMC Genomics 02/2013; 14(1):134. · 4.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background We present the genome sequence of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, which is a member of the kangaroo family and the first representative of the iconic hopping mammals that symbolize Australia to be sequenced. The tammar has many unusual biological characteristics, including the longest period of embryonic diapause of any mammal, extremely synchronized seasonal breeding and prolonged and sophisticated lactation within a well-defined pouch. Like other marsupials, it gives birth to highly altricial young, and has a small number of very large chromosomes, making it a valuable model for genomics, reproduction and development. Results The genome has been sequenced to 2 × coverage using Sanger sequencing, enhanced with additional next generation sequencing and the integration of extensive physical and linkage maps to build the genome assembly. We also sequenced the tammar transcriptome across many tissues and developmental time points. Our analyses of these data shed light on mammalian reproduction, development and genome evolution: there is innovation in reproductive and lactational genes, rapid evolution of germ cell genes, and incomplete, locus-specific X inactivation. We also observe novel retrotransposons and a highly rearranged major histocompatibility complex, with many class I genes located outside the complex. Novel microRNAs in the tammar HOX clusters uncover new potential mammalian HOX regulatory elements. Conclusions Analyses of these resources enhance our understanding of marsupial gene evolution, identify marsupial-specific conserved non-coding elements and critical genes across a range of biological systems, including reproduction, development and immunity, and provide new insight into marsupial and mammalian biology and genome evolution.
    Genome biology 12/2011; 12(12):414. · 10.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report here the isolation and sequencing of 10 Y-specific tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) BAC clones, revealing five hitherto undescribed tammar wallaby Y genes (in addition to the five genes already described) and several pseudogenes. Some genes on the wallaby Y display testis-specific expression, but most have low widespread expression. All have partners on the tammar X, along with homologs on the human X. Nonsynonymous and synonymous substitution ratios for nine of the tammar XY gene pairs indicate that they are each under purifying selection. All 10 were also identified as being on the Y in Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii; a distantly related Australian marsupial); however, seven have been lost from the human Y. Maximum likelihood phylogenetic analyses of the wallaby YX genes, with respective homologs from other vertebrate representatives, revealed that three marsupial Y genes (HCFC1X/Y, MECP2X/Y, and HUWE1X/Y) were members of the ancestral therian pseudoautosomal region (PAR) at the time of the marsupial/eutherian split; three XY pairs (SOX3/SRY, RBMX/Y, and ATRX/Y) were isolated from each other before the marsupial/eutherian split, and the remaining three (RPL10X/Y, PHF6X/Y, and UBA1/UBE1Y) have a more complex evolutionary history. Thus, the small marsupial Y chromosome is surprisingly rich in ancient genes that are retained in at least Australian marsupials and evolved from testis-brain expressed genes on the X.
    Genome Research 11/2011; 22(3):498-507. · 14.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In mammals, birds, snakes and many lizards and fish, sex is determined genetically (either male XY heterogamy or female ZW heterogamy), whereas in alligators, and in many reptiles and turtles, the temperature at which eggs are incubated determines sex. Evidently, different sex-determining systems (and sex chromosome pairs) have evolved independently in different vertebrate lineages. Homology shared by Xs and Ys (and Zs and Ws) within species demonstrates that differentiated sex chromosomes were once homologous, and that the sex-specific non-recombining Y (or W) was progressively degraded. Consequently, genes are left in single copy in the heterogametic sex, which results in an imbalance of the dosage of genes on the sex chromosomes between the sexes, and also relative to the autosomes. Dosage compensation has evolved in diverse species to compensate for these dose differences, with the stringency of compensation apparently differing greatly between lineages, perhaps reflecting the concentration of genes on the original autosome pair that required dosage compensation. We discuss the organization and evolution of amniote sex chromosomes, and hypothesize that dosage insensitivity might predispose an autosome to evolving function as a sex chromosome.
    Heredity 11/2011; 108(1):50-8. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sex chromosome dosage compensation in both eutherian and marsupial mammals is achieved by X chromosome inactivation (XCI)--transcriptional repression that silences one of the two X chromosomes in the somatic cells of females. We recently used RNA fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) to show, in individual nuclei, that marsupial X inactivation (in the absence of XIST) occurs on a gene-by-gene basis, and that escape from inactivation is stochastic and independent of gene location. In the absence of similar data from fibroblast cell lines of eutherian representatives, a meaningful comparison is lacking. We therefore used RNA-FISH to examine XCI in fibroblast cell lines obtained from three distantly related eutherian model species: African savannah elephant (Loxodonta africana), mouse (Mus musculus) and human (Homo sapiens). We show that, unlike the orthologous marsupial X, inactivation of the X conserved region (XCR) in eutherians generally is complete. Two-colour RNA-FISH on female human, mouse and elephant interphase nuclei showed that XCR loci have monoallelic expression in almost all nuclei. However, we found that many loci located in the evolutionarily distinct recently added region (XAR) displayed reproducible locus-specific frequencies of nuclei with either one or two active X alleles. We propose that marsupial XCI retains features of an ancient incomplete silencing mechanism that was augmented by the evolution of the XIST gene that progressively stabilized the eutherian XCR. In contrast, the recently added region of the eutherian X displays an incomplete inactivation profile similar to that observed on the evolutionarily distinct marsupial X and the independently evolved monotreme X chromosomes.
    Chromosoma 09/2011; 121(1):71-8. · 3.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the genome sequence of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, which is a member of the kangaroo family and the first representative of the iconic hopping mammals that symbolize Australia to be sequenced. The tammar has many unusual biological characteristics, including the longest period of embryonic diapause of any mammal, extremely synchronized seasonal breeding and prolonged and sophisticated lactation within a well-defined pouch. Like other marsupials, it gives birth to highly altricial young, and has a small number of very large chromosomes, making it a valuable model for genomics, reproduction and development. The genome has been sequenced to 2 × coverage using Sanger sequencing, enhanced with additional next generation sequencing and the integration of extensive physical and linkage maps to build the genome assembly. We also sequenced the tammar transcriptome across many tissues and developmental time points. Our analyses of these data shed light on mammalian reproduction, development and genome evolution: there is innovation in reproductive and lactational genes, rapid evolution of germ cell genes, and incomplete, locus-specific X inactivation. We also observe novel retrotransposons and a highly rearranged major histocompatibility complex, with many class I genes located outside the complex. Novel microRNAs in the tammar HOX clusters uncover new potential mammalian HOX regulatory elements. Analyses of these resources enhance our understanding of marsupial gene evolution, identify marsupial-specific conserved non-coding elements and critical genes across a range of biological systems, including reproduction, development and immunity, and provide new insight into marsupial and mammalian biology and genome evolution.
    Genome biology 08/2011; 12(8):R81. · 10.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Rattini (Muridae, Murinae) includes the biologically important model species Rattus norvegicus (RNO) and represents a group of rodents that are of clinical, agricultural and epidemiological importance. We present a comparative molecular cytogenetic investigation of ten Rattini species representative of the genera Maxomys, Leopoldamys, Niviventer, Berylmys, Bandicota and Rattus using chromosome banding, cross-species painting (Zoo-fluorescent in situ hybridization or FISH) and BAC-FISH mapping. Our results show that these taxa are characterised by slow to moderate rates of chromosome evolution that contrasts with the extensive chromosome restructuring identified in most other murid rodents, particularly the mouse lineage. This extends to genomic features such as NOR location (for example, NORs on RNO 3 are present on the corresponding chromosomes in all species except Bandicota savilei and Niviventer fulvescens, and the NORs on RNO 10 are conserved in all Rattini with the exception of Rattus). The satellite I DNA family detected and characterised herein appears to be taxon (Rattus) specific, and of recent origin (consistent with a feedback model of satellite evolution). BAC-mapping using clones that span regions responsible for the morphological variability exhibited by RNO 1, 12 and 13 (acrocentric/submetacentric) and their orthologues in Rattus species, demonstrated that the differences are most likely due to pericentric inversions as exemplified by data on Rattus tanezumi. Chromosomal characters detected using R. norvegicus and Maxomys surifer whole chromosome painting probes were mapped to a consensus sequence-based phylogenetic tree thus allowing an objective assessment of ancestral states for the reconstruction of the putative Rattini ancestral karyotype. This is thought to have comprised 46 chromosomes that, with the exception of a single pair of metacentric autosomes, were acrocentric in morphology.
    Chromosome Research 08/2011; 19(6):709-27. · 3.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is the transcriptional silencing of one X in female mammals, balancing expression of X genes between females (XX) and males (XY). In placental mammals non-coding XIST RNA triggers silencing of one X (Xi) and recruits a characteristic suite of epigenetic modifications, including the histone mark H3K27me3. In marsupials, where XIST is missing, H3K27me3 association seems to have different degrees of stability, depending on cell-types and species. However, the complete suite of histone marks associated with the Xi and their stability throughout cell cycle remain a mystery, as does the evolution of an ancient mammal XCI system. Our extensive immunofluorescence analysis (using antibodies against specific histone modifications) in nuclei of mammals distantly related to human and mouse, revealed a general absence from the mammalian Xi territory of transcription machinery and histone modifications associated with active chromatin. Specific repressive modifications associated with XCI in human and mouse were also observed in elephant (a distantly related placental mammal), as was accumulation of XIST RNA. However, in two marsupial species the Xi either lacked these modifications (H4K20me1), or they were restricted to specific windows of the cell cycle (H3K27me3, H3K9me2). Surprisingly, the marsupial Xi was stably enriched for modifications associated with constitutive heterochromatin in all eukaryotes (H4K20me3, H3K9me3). We propose that marsupial XCI is comparable to a system that evolved in the common therian (marsupial and placental) ancestor. Silent chromatin of the early inactive X was exapted from neighbouring constitutive heterochromatin and, in early placental evolution, was augmented by the rise of XIST and the stable recruitment of specific histone modifications now classically associated with XCI.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(4):e19040. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: X chromosome inactivation is a spectacular example of epigenetic silencing. In order to deduce how this complex system evolved, we examined X inactivation in a model marsupial, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii). In marsupials, X inactivation is known to be paternal, incomplete and tissue-specific, and occurs in the absence of an XIST orthologue. We examined expression of X-borne genes using quantitative PCR, revealing a range of dosage compensation for different loci. To assess the frequency of 1X- or 2X-active fibroblasts, we investigated expression of 32 X-borne genes at the cellular level using RNA-FISH. In female fibroblasts, two-color RNA-FISH showed that genes were coordinately expressed from the same X (active X) in nuclei in which both loci were inactivated. However, loci on the other X escape inactivation independently, with each locus showing a characteristic frequency of 1X-active and 2X-active nuclei, equivalent to stochastic escape. We constructed an activity map of the tammar wallaby inactive X chromosome, which identified no relationship between gene location and extent of inactivation, nor any correlation with the presence or absence of a Y-borne paralog. In the tammar wallaby, one X (presumed to be maternal) is expressed in all cells, but genes on the other (paternal) X escape inactivation independently and at characteristic frequencies. The paternal and incomplete X chromosome inactivation in marsupials, with stochastic escape, appears to be quite distinct from the X chromosome inactivation process in eutherians. We find no evidence for a polar spread of inactivation from an X inactivation center.
    Genome biology 12/2010; 11(12):R122. · 10.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: X chromosome inactivation (X-inactivation; XCI) in mammals equalizes X gene dosage between XX females and XY males. It is the prime example of epigenetic repression on a grand scale. This regulatory process differentially treats homologous chromosomes within the same nucleus to ensure that only a single X chromosome remains active in a diploid female cell. The best-studied models of X-inactivation, humans and mice, represent only one of four clades of placental (eutherian) mammals. Comparisons of dosage compensation mechanisms in distantly related eutherian mammals, marsupial and monotreme mammals, and even birds, will offer entirely new insights to the mechanisms and evolution of dosage compensation. In order to reconstruct what dosage compensation mechanisms might have been functioning in the mammalian ancestor, we highlight the molecular similarities and differences between X-inactivation in marsupials and eutherians, and compare them with the partial dosage compensation system observed in monotreme mammals, which appears more similar to bird dosage compensation. We draw parallels between these mechanisms, which may well have evolved independently by drawing from a common epigenetic “toolbox”, and therefore utilize similar molecular mechanisms to down-regulate gene expression. KeywordsDosage compensation-Epigenetics-Evolution-Marsupials-X inactivation
    12/2009: pages 259-280;
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    ABSTRACT: The mammalian Y chromosome is a gene poor element with enormous responsibility. Just how the mammalian Y chromosome acquired the function of sex determination, then surrendered most of its other functions, remains one of the most intriguing questions in genomics. The basic marsupial Y chromosome represents a degraded relic of the original mammalian Y, which did not receive the large autosomal addition that augmented the X and Y of eutherian mammals. Like the Y of other mammals, the marsupial Y contains species-specific repetitive sequences. It also bears an interesting mixture of genes; ancient male-specific genes, such as SRY and RBMY, which evolved from X-borne genes before the eutherian-marsupial divergence, and are conserved across therian mammals. The marsupial Y also bears novel genes such as ATRY, that in eutherian mammals have been lost from the Y but maintain a copy on the X. The unique properties of the marsupial Y chromosome have provided insights into the evolution of the mammalian Y, enabling us to gain a better understanding of the selection processes that shaped it. KeywordsComparative genomics-Evolution-Mammals-Marsupials-Y chromosome
    12/2009: pages 207-228;
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    ABSTRACT: Reptiles show a diverse array of sex chromosomal systems but, remarkably, the Z sex chromosomes of chicken are homologous to the ZW sex chromosomes of a species of gecko, Gekko hokouensis, suggesting an ancient but common origin. This is in contrast to the ZW sex chromosomes of snakes and a species of soft-shelled turtle, Pelodiscus sinensis, which are nonhomologous to those of chicken or each other and appear to have been independently derived. In this paper, we determine what homology, if any, the sex chromosomes of the Australian dragon lizard Pogona vitticeps shares with those of snake and chicken by mapping the dragon homologs of five snake Z chromosome genes (WAC, KLF6, TAX1BP1, RAB5A, and CTNNB1) and five chicken Z chromosome genes (ATP5A1, GHR, DMRT1, CHD1, and APTX) to chromosomes in the dragon. The dragon homologs of snake and chicken sex chromosome genes map to chromosomes 6 and chromosome 2, respectively, in the dragon and that DMRT1, the bird sex-determining gene, is not located on the sex chromosomes of P. vitticeps. Indeed, our data show that the dragon homolog to the chicken Z chromosome is likely to be wholly contained within chromosome 2 in P. vitticeps, which suggests that the sex-determining factor in P. vitticeps is not the sex-determining gene of chicken. Homology between chicken Z chromosome and G. hokouensis ZW chromosome pairs has been interpreted as retention of ancient ZW sex chromosomes in which case the nonhomologous sex chromosomes of snake and dragons would be independently derived. Our data add another case of independently derived sex chromosomes in a squamate reptile, which makes retention of ancient sex chromosome homology in the squamates less plausible. Alternatively, the conservation between the bird Z chromosome and the G. hokouensis ZW chromosomes pairs is coincidental, may be an example of convergent evolution, its status as the Z chromosome having been independently derived in birds and G. hokouensis.
    Chromosome Research 12/2009; 17(8):965-73. · 3.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: All therian mammals (eutherians and marsupials) have an XX female/XY male sex chromosome system or some variant of it. The X and Y evolved from a homologous pair of autosomes over the 166 million years since therian mammals diverged from monotremes. Comparing the sex chromosomes of eutherians and marsupials defined an ancient X conserved region that is shared between species of these mammalian clades. However, the eutherian X (and the Y) was augmented by a recent addition (XAR) that is autosomal in marsupials. XAR is part of the X in primates, rodents, and artiodactyls (which belong to the eutherian clade Boreoeutheria), but it is uncertain whether XAR is part of the X chromosome in more distantly related eutherian mammals. Here we report on the gene content and order on the X of the elephant (Loxodonta africana)-a representative of Afrotheria, a basal endemic clade of African mammals-and compare these findings to those of other documented eutherian species. A total of 17 genes were mapped to the elephant X chromosome. Our results support the hypothesis that the eutherian X and Y chromosomes were augmented by the addition of autosomal material prior to eutherian radiation. Not only does the elephant X bear the same suite of genes as other eutherian X chromosomes, but gene order appears to have been maintained across 105 million years of evolution, perhaps reflecting strong constraints posed by the eutherian X inactivation system.
    Chromosome Research 09/2009; 17(7):917-26. · 3.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Comparative gene mapping of human X-borne genes in marsupials defined an ancient conserved region and a recently added region of the eutherian X, and the separate evolutionary origins of these regions was confirmed by their locations on chicken chromosomes 4p and 1q, respectively. However, two groups of genes, from the pericentric region of the short arm of the human X (at Xp11) and a large group of genes from human Xq28, were thought to be part of a third evolutionary block, being located in a single region in fish, but mapping to chicken chromosomes other than 4p and 1q. We tested this hypothesis by comparative mapping of genes in these regions. Our gene mapping results show that human Xp11 genes are located on the marsupial X chromosome and platypus chromosome 6, indicating that the Xp11 region was part of original therian X chromosome. We investigated the evolutionary origin of genes from human Xp11 and Xq28, finding that chicken paralogs of human Xp11 and Xq28 genes had been misidentified as orthologs, and their true orthologs are represented in the chicken EST database, but not in the current chicken genome assembly. This completely undermines the evidence supporting a separate evolutionary origin for this region of the human X chromosome, and we conclude, instead, that it was part of the ancient autosome, which became the conserved region of the therian X chromosome 166 million years ago.
    Genome Research 06/2009; 19(8):1350-60. · 14.40 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Marsupials, which diverged from eutherian mammals 150 million years ago (MYA), occupy a phylogenetic position that is very valuable in genome comparisons of mammal and other vertebrate species. Within the marsupials, the Australian and American clades (represented by the tammar wallaby Macropus eugenii, and the opossum Monodelphis domestica) diverged about 70 MYA. G-banding and chromosome painting suggest that tammar wallaby chromosome 6q has homology to opossum chromosome 7q. We tested this conservation by physically mapping the tammar wallaby orthologs of opossum chromosome 7q genes. We isolated 28 tammar wallaby BAC clones that contained orthologs of 16 opossum chromosome 7q genes. We used fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) to show that they all mapped specifically to the tammar wallaby chromosome 6q in nearly the same order as their orthologs on opossum chromosome 7q. Thus this chromosome arm is genetically, as well as cytologically, conserved over the 55-80 million years that separate kangaroos and the opossum.
    Cytogenetic and Genome Research 02/2009; 124(2):147-50. · 1.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In vertebrates, a highly conserved pathway of genetic events controls male and female development, to the extent that many genes involved in human sex determination are also involved in fish sex determination. Surprisingly, the master switch to this pathway, which intuitively could be considered the most critical step, is inconsistent between vertebrate taxa. Interspersed in the vertebrate tree there are species that determine sex by environmental cues such as the temperature at which eggs are incubated, and then there are genetic sex-determination systems, with male heterogametic species (XY systems) and female heterogametic species (ZW systems), some of which have heteromorphic, and others homomorphic, sex chromosomes. This plasticity of sex-determining switches in vertebrates has made tracking the events of sex chromosome evolution in amniotes a daunting task, but comparative gene mapping is beginning to reveal some striking similarities across even distant taxa. In particular, the recent completion of the platypus genome sequence has completely changed our understanding of when the therian mammal X and Y chromosomes first arose (they are up to 150 million years younger than previously thought) and has also revealed the unexpected insight that sex determination of the amniote ancestor might have been controlled by a bird-like ZW system.
    Reproduction Fertility and Development 01/2009; 21(8):943-51. · 2.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Marsupials are especially valuable for comparative genomic studies of mammals. Two distantly related model marsupials have been sequenced: the South American opossum (Monodelphis domestica) and the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), which last shared a common ancestor about 70 Mya. The six-fold opossum genome sequence has been assembled and assigned to chromosomes with the help of a cytogenetic map. A good cytogenetic map will be even more essential for assembly and anchoring of the two-fold wallaby genome. As a start to generating a physical map of gene locations on wallaby chromosomes, we focused on two chromosomes sharing homology with the human X, wallaby chromosomes X and 5. We devised an efficient strategy for mapping large conserved synteny blocks in non-model mammals, and applied this to generate dense maps of the X and 'neo-X' regions and to determine the arrangement of large conserved synteny blocks on chromosome 5. Comparisons between the wallaby and opossum chromosome maps revealed many rearrangements, highlighting the need for comparative gene mapping between South American and Australian marsupials. Frequent rearrangement of the X, along with the absence of a marsupial XIST gene, suggests that inactivation of the marsupial X chromosome does not depend on a whole-chromosome repression by a control locus.
    Chromosome Research 12/2008; 16(8):1159-75. · 3.47 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
334.16 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2001–2013
    • Australian National University
      • Research School of Biology (RSB)
      Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  • 2006–2011
    • Stellenbosch University
      • Department of Botany and Zoology
      Stellenbosch, Province of the Western Cape, South Africa
  • 2001–2002
    • La Trobe University
      • Department of Genetics
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia