Epigenetic processes in a tetraploid mammal

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Abstract

Polyploidy has played a most important role in speciation and evolution of plants and animals. It is thought that low frequency of polyploidy in mammals is due to a dosage imbalance that would interfere with proper development in mammalian polyploids. The first tetraploid mammal, Tympanoctomys barrerae (Octodontidae), appears to be an exception to this rule. In this study we investigated X chromosome inactivation (XCI) and genomic imprinting in T. barrerae, two epigenetic processes usually involved in dosage control in mammalian genomes. The imprinting status of the Peg1 gene was determined by Peg1 allelic expression studies. The inactive X chromosome was identified on interphase nuclei by immunofluorescence using specific antisera raised against Met3H3K27 and macroH2A1. Quantitative PCR was used to compare the Peg1/Dmd ratio in T. barrerae and in its most closely related diploid species, Octomys mimax. Our data demonstrate that parental-specific silencing of at least one gene and normal X chromosomal dosage mechanism are conserved in the tetraploid genome. We hypothesize a concerted action of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms during the process of functional diploidization of this tetraploid genome.

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