A new cytotype of the African pygmy mouse **Mus minutoides** in Eastern Africa : implications for the evolution of sex-autosome translocations
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Chromosome research : an international journal on the molecular supramolecular and evolutionary aspects of chromosome biology / Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen [Amsterdam] - Oxford
, p. 533-543
University of Antwerp
The African pygmy mice (genus Mus, subgenus Nannomys) are recognized for their highly conserved morphology but extensive chromosomal diversity, particularly involving sex-autosome translocations, one of the rarest chromosomal rearrangements among mammals. It has been shown that in the absence of unambiguous diagnostic morphological traits, sex-autosome translocations offer accurate taxonomic markers. For example, in Mus minutoides, irrespective of the diploid number (which ranges from 2n = 18 to 34), all specimens possess the sex-autosome translocations (X.1) and (Y.1) that are unique to this species. In this study, we describe a new cytotype that challenges this view. Males are characterized by the translocation (Y.1) only, while females carry no sex-autosome translocation, the X chromosome being acrocentric. Hence, although sex-autosome translocations (X.1) and (Y.1) are still diagnostic when one or both are present, their absence does not rule out M. minutoides. This cytotype has a large distribution, with specimens found in Tanzania and in the eastern part of South Africa. The nonpervasive distribution of Rb(X.1) provides an opportunity to investigate different evolutionary scenarios of sex-autosome translocations using a phylogenetic framework and the distribution of telomeric repeats. The results tend to support a scenario involving a reversal event, i.e., fusion then fission of Rb(X.1), and highlighted the existence of a new X1X1X2X2/X1X2Y sex chromosome system, confirming the remarkable diversity of neo-sex chromosomes and sex determination systems in the African pygmy mice.