Thursday, 21 February 2019

What causes rats without a Y chromosome to become male?

Date:  January 31, 2019
Source:  Hokkaido University
A look at the brains of an endangered spiny rat off the coast of Japan by University of Missouri (MU) Bond Life Sciences Center scientist Cheryl Rosenfeld could illuminate the subtle genetic influences that stimulate a mammal's cells to develop as male versus female in the absence of a Y chromosome.
The root of the answer is in the chromosomes of this particular mammal. Males of the Amami spiny rat (Tokudaia osimensis) are not like most therian mammals -- a name used to group animals that give live birth including placental mammals and marsupials. Unlike in most mammals, these males have no Y chromosome, which has been shed over eons of evolution. And they only have one X chromosome.
"I'd been interested in these rats for many years now, and it's unclear how sexual differentiation of the gonads and brain occur in this species since both males and females have a single X chromosome," said Cheryl Rosenfeld, lead author on the study and an MU researcher.

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