Comparative mapping and sequencing was used to characterize the sites of ancestral chromosomal fusions in the Indian muntjac genome.
Indian muntjac ( Muntiacus muntjak vaginalis) has an extreme mammalian karyotype, with only six and seven chromosomes in the female and male, respectively. Chinese muntjac ( Muntiacus reevesi) has a more typical mammalian karyotype, with 46 chromosomes in both sexes. Despite this disparity, the two muntjac species are morphologically similar and can even interbreed to produce viable (albeit sterile) offspring. Previous studies have suggested that a series of telocentric chromosome fusion events involving telomeric and/or satellite repeats led to the extant Indian muntjac karyotype.
We used a comparative mapping and sequencing approach to characterize the sites of ancestral chromosomal fusions in the Indian muntjac genome. Specifically, we screened an Indian muntjac bacterial artificial-chromosome library with a telomere repeat-specific probe. Isolated clones found by fluorescence in situ hybridization to map to interstitial regions on Indian muntjac chromosomes were further characterized, with a subset then subjected to shotgun sequencing. Subsequently, we isolated and sequenced overlapping clones extending from the ends of some of these initial clones; we also generated orthologous sequence from isolated Chinese muntjac clones. The generated Indian muntjac sequence has been analyzed for the juxtaposition of telomeric and satellite repeats and for synteny relationships relative to other mammalian genomes, including the Chinese muntjac.
The generated sequence data and comparative analyses provide a detailed genomic context for seven ancestral chromosome fusion sites in the Indian muntjac genome, which further supports the telocentric fusion model for the events leading to the unusual karyotypic differences among muntjac species.