Origins and functional evolution of y chromosomes across mammals

Diego Cortez, Ray Marin, Deborah Toledo-Flores, Laure Froidevaux, Angélica Liechti, Paul D. Waters, Frank Grützner, Henrik Kaessmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

223 Citations (Scopus)

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-493
Number of pages6
JournalNature
Volume508
Issue number7497
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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