Molecular differentiation of sex chromosomes probed by comparative genomic hybridization

Walther Traut*, Ken Sahara, Thomas D. Otto, František Marec

*Corresponding author for this work
85 Citations (Scopus)


Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) was used to identify and probe sex chromosomes in several XY and WZ systems. Chromosomes were hybridized simultaneously with FluorX-labelled DNA of females and Cy3-labelled DNA of males in the presence of an excess of Cot-1 DNA or unlabelled DNA of the homogametic sex. CGH visualized the molecular differentiation of the X and Y in the house mouse, Mus musculus, and in Drosophila melanogaster: while autosomes were stained equally by both probes, the X and Y chromosomes were stained preferentially by the female-derived or the male-derived probe, respectively. There was no differential staining of the X and Y chromosomes in the fly Megaselia scalaris, indicating an early stage of sex chromosome differentiation in this species. In the human and the house mouse, labelled DNA of males in the presence of unlabelled DNA of females was sufficient to highlight Y chromosomes in mitosis and interphase. In WZ sex chromosome systems, the silkworm Bombyx mori, the flour moth Ephestia kuehniella, and the wax moth Galleria mellonella, the W chromosomes were identified by CGH in mitosis and meiosis. They were conspicuously stained by both female- and male-derived probes, unlike the Z chromosomes, which were preferentially stained by the male-derived probe in E. kuehniella only but were otherwise inconspicuous. The ratio of female:male staining and the pattern of staining along the W chromosomes was species specific. CGH shows that W chromosomes in these species are molecularly well differentiated from the Z chromosomes. The conspicuous binding of the male-derived probe to the W chromosomes is presumably due to an accumulation of common interspersed repetitive sequences.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)173-180
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1999

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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