While highly differentiated and long-conserved sex chromosomes such as XY and ZW chromosomes are observed, respectively, in mammalian and avian species, no counterparts to such chromosomes were observed in fish until we reported in the previous study that well-conserved and highly differentiated ZW sex chromosomes existed in the family of Synodontidae. Then, the problem was if the evolutionary history of the fish ZW chromosomes was long enough to be comparable to the mammalian and avian counterparts. To tackle the problem, we had to extend our finding of the fish sex chromosomes further than a family alone. For this purpose, we chose Aulopus japonicus that belonged to one of the related families to Synodontidae. Our cytogenetic and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analyses have clearly demonstrated that A. japonicus also has ZW chromosomes. We have also found that 5S rDNA clusters are located on the Z and W chromosomes in this species. Using nontranscribed intergenic sequences in the 5S rDNA clusters as PCR primers, we successfully amplified a 6-kb-long female-specific sequence on the W chromosome. The 6-kb-long sequence contained one transposable element and two tRNA sequences. The function of the sequence remains to be studied. Our Southern blot analysis confirmed that the 6-kb sequence was located only on the W chromosome. Therefore, it is now said that highly differentiated ZW chromosomes have been conserved over two fish families. As these families were reported to have been diverged 30-60 million years ago, the fish ZW chromosomes have an evolutionary history corresponding to the history of the families. This is perhaps the first case that fish sex chromosomes are shown to have such a long evolutionary lineage.
- 5S rDNA
- Fluorescent in situ hybridization
- Sex chromosome
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