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Vol. 101, No. 3-4, 2003
Issue release date: 2003

Sex chromosomes, sex determination, and sex-linked sequences in Microtidae

Marchal J.A. · Acosta M.J. · Bullejos M. · Díaz de la Guardia R. · Sánchez A.
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The Arvicolidae is a widely distributed rodent group with several interesting characteristics in their sex chromosomes. Here, we summarize the actual knowledge of some of these characteristics. This mammalian group has species with abnormal sex determination systems. In fact, some species present the same karyotype in both males and females, with total absence of a Y chromosome, and hence of SRY and ZFY genes. Other species present fertile, sex-reversed XY females, generally due to mutations affecting X chromosomes. Furthermore, in Microtus oregoni males and females are gonosomic mosaic (the females are XO in the soma and XX in the germ cells, while the males are XY in the soma and OY in the germ cells). Regarding sex chromosomes, some species present enlarged (giant) sex chromosomes because of the presence of large blocks of constitutive heterochromatin, which have been demonstrated to be highly heterogeneous. Furthermore, we also consider the alterations affecting composition and localization of sex-linked genes or repeated sequences. Finally, this rodent group includes species with synaptic and asynaptic sex chromosomes. In fact, several species with asynaptic sex chromosomes have been described. It is interesting to note that within the genus Microtus both types of sex chromosomes are present.   

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