Germline-restricted chromosome (GRC) is widespread among songbirds

Torgasheva, A A and Malinovskaya, L P and Zadesenets, K S and Karamysheva, T V and Kizilova, E A and Akberdina, E A and Pristyazhnyuk, I E and Shnaider, E P and Volodkina, V A and Saifitdinova, A F and Galkina, S A and Larkin, D M and Rubtsov, N B and Borodin, P M (2019) Germline-restricted chromosome (GRC) is widespread among songbirds. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

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Abstract

An unusual supernumerary chromosome has been reported for two related avian species, the zebra and Bengalese finches. This large, germline-restricted chromosome (GRC) is eliminated from somatic cells and spermatids and transmitted via oocytes only. Its origin, distribution among avian lineages, and function were mostly unknown so far. Using immunolocalization of key meiotic proteins, we found that GRCs of varying size and genetic content are present in all 16 songbird species investigated and absent from germline genomes of all eight examined bird species from other avian orders. Results of fluorescent in situ hybridization of microdissected GRC probes and their sequencing indicate that GRCs show little homology between songbird species and contain a variety of repetitive elements and unique sequences with paralogs in the somatic genome. Our data suggest that the GRC evolved in the common ancestor of all songbirds and underwent significant changes in the extant descendant lineages.