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A 180 My-old female-specific genome region in sturgeon reveals the oldest known vertebrate sex determining system with undifferentiated sex chromosomes

Abstract : Several hypotheses explain the prevalence of undifferentiated sex chromosomes in poikilothermic vertebrates. Turnovers change the master sex determination gene, the sex chromosome or the sex determination system (e.g. XY to WZ). Jumping master genes stay main triggers but translocate to other chromosomes. Occasional recombination (e.g. in sex-reversed females) prevents sex chromosome degeneration. Recent research has uncovered conserved heteromorphic or even homomorphic sex chromosomes in several clades of non-avian and non-mammalian vertebrates. Sex determination in sturgeons (Acipenseridae) has been a long-standing basic biological question, linked to economical demands by the caviar-producing aquaculture. Here, we report the discovery of a sex-specific sequence from sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus). Using chromosome-scale assemblies and pool-sequencing, we first identified a ~16 kb female-specific region. We developed a PCR-genotyping test, yielding female-specific products in six species, spanning the entire phylogeny with the most divergent extant lineages (A. sturio, A. oxyrinchus vs. A. ruthenus, Huso huso), stemming from an ancient tetraploidization. Similar results were obtained in two octoploid species (A. gueldenstaedtii, A. baerii). Conservation of a female-specific sequence for a long period, representing 180 My of sturgeon evolution, and across at least one polyploidization event, raises many interesting biological questions. We discuss a conserved undifferentiated sex chromosome system with a ZZ/ZW-mode of sex determination and potential alternatives.
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https://hal.inrae.fr/hal-03038088
Contributor : Maryse Corvaisier <>
Submitted on : Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 12:07:17 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 16, 2021 - 3:04:01 PM

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Heiner Kuhl, Yann Guiguen, Christin Höhne, Eva Kreuz, Du Kang, et al.. A 180 My-old female-specific genome region in sturgeon reveals the oldest known vertebrate sex determining system with undifferentiated sex chromosomes. 2020. ⟨hal-03038088⟩

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