Complex evolution of X and Y autosomal translocations in the giant mole-rat, Cryptomys mechowi (Bathyergidae)
Cross-species chromosome painting was used to determine homologous chromosomal regions between two species of mole-rat, the naked mole-rat, Heterocephalus glaber (2n = 60), and the giant mole-rat, Cryptomys mechowi (2n = 40), using flow-sorted painting probes representative of all but two of the H. glaber chromosomal complement. In total 43 homologous regions were identified in the C. mechowi genome. Eight H. glaber chromosomes are retained in toto in C. mechowi, and 13 produce two or more signals in this species. The most striking difference in the karyotypes of the two taxa concerns their sex chromosomes. The H. glaber painting probes identified a complex series of translocations that involved the fractionation of four autosomes and the subsequent translocation of segments to the sex chromosomes and to autosomal partners in the C. mechowi genome. An intercalary heterochromatic block (IHB) was detected in sex chromosomes of C. mechowi at the boundary with the translocated autosomal segment. We discuss the likely sequence of evolutionary events that has led to the contemporary composition of the C. mechowi sex chromosomes, and consider these in the light of prevailing views on the genesis of sex chromosomes in mammals. © Springer 2006.