The pseudoautosomal region (PAR) is a unique and specialized segment on the mammalian sex chromosomes with known functions in male meiosis and fertility. Detailed molecular studies of the region in human and mouse show dramatic differences between the 2 PARs. Recent mapping efforts in horse, dog/cat, cattle/ruminants, pig and alpaca indicate that the PAR also varies in size and gene content between other species. Given that PAR genes escape X inactivation, these differences might critically affect the genetic consequences, such as embryonic survival and postnatal phenotypes of sex chromosome aneuploidies. The aim of this review is to combine the available information about the organization of the PAR in domestic species with the cytogenetic data on sex chromosome aneuploidies. We show that viable XO individuals are relatively frequently found in species with small PARs, such as horses, humans and mice but are rare or absent in species in which the PAR is substantially larger, like in cattle/ruminants, dogs, pigs, and alpacas. No similar correlation can be detected between the PAR size and the X chromosome trisomy in different species. Recent evidence about the likely involvement of PAR genes in placenta formation, early embryonic development and genomic imprinting are presented.
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