Construction and initial analysis of bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) contigs from the sex-determining region of the platyfish Xiphophorus maculatus

Gene. 2002 Aug 7;295(2):247-54. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(02)00684-4.


Despite the major importance of sex determination in aquaculture, no master sex-determining gene has been identified so far in teleost fish. In the platyfish Xiphophorus maculatus, this master gene is flanked by two receptor tyrosine kinase genes, the Xmrk oncogene responsible for melanoma formation in some Xiphophorus interspecific hybrids, and its proto-oncogenic counterpart. Both Xmrk genes, which have already been characterised at the molecular level, delimit a region of about 1 Mb that contains other gene loci involved in sexual maturity, pigmentation and melanoma formation. We have constructed a genomic bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library of X. maculatus with a tenfold coverage of the haploid genome and walked on both X and Y sex chromosomes starting from both Xmrk genes. This led to the assembly of BAC contigs from the sex-determining region covering approximately 950 kb of the X and 750 kb of the Y chromosome. To our knowledge, these are the largest contigs reported so far for sex chromosomes in fish. Molecular analysis suggests that the sex-determining region of X. maculatus frequently undergoes retrotranspositions and other kinds of rearrangements. This genomic plasticity might be related to the high genetic variability observed in Xiphophorus for sex determination, sexual maturity, pigmentation and melanoma formation, which are encoded by gene loci located in the sex-determining region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Contig Mapping / methods*
  • Cyprinodontiformes / genetics*
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Duplication
  • Genomic Library
  • Male
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics
  • Retroelements / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Sex Determination Processes*
  • X Chromosome / genetics
  • Y Chromosome / genetics


  • Retroelements
  • DNA