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Implications of monotreme and marsupial chromosome evolution on sex determination and differentiation

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Studies of chromosomes from monotremes and marsupials endemic to Australasia have provided important insight into the evolution of their genomes as well as uncovering fundamental differences in their sex determination/differentiation pathways. Great advances have been made this century into solving the mystery of the complicated sex chromosome system in monotremes. Monotremes possess multiple different X and Y chromosomes and a candidate sex determining gene has been identified. Even greater advancements have been made for marsupials, with reconstruction of the ancestral karyotype enabling the evolutionary history of marsupial chromosomes to be determined. Furthermore, the study of sex chromosomes in intersex marsupials has afforded insight into differences in the sexual differentiation pathway between marsupials and eutherians, together with experiments showing the insensitivity of the mammary glands, pouch and scrotum to exogenous hormones, led to the hypothesis that there is a gene (or genes) on the X chromosome responsible for the development of either pouch or scrotum. This review highlights the major advancements made towards understanding chromosome evolution and how this has impacted on our understanding of sex determination and differentiation in these interesting mammals.




Deakin, J. E. (2017). Implications of monotreme and marsupial chromosome evolution on sex determination and differentiation. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 244, 130–138.

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