The pseudoautosomal region (PAR) is a genomic segment on mammalian sex chromosomes where sequence homology mimics that seen between autosomal homologues. The region is essential for pairing and proper segregation of sex chromosomes during male meiosis. As yet, only human/chimp and mouse PARs have been characterized. The two groups of species differ dramatically in gene content and size of the PAR and therefore do not provide clues about the likely evolution and constitution of PAR among mammals. Here we characterize the equine PAR by i) isolating and arranging 71 BACs containing 129 markers (110 STS and 19 genes) into two contigs spanning the region, ii) precisely localizing the pseudoautosomal boundary (PAB), and iii) describing part of the contiguous X- and Y-specific regions. We also report the discovery of an approximately 200 kb region in the middle of the PAR that is present in the male-specific region of the Y (MSY) as well. Such duplication is a novel observation in mammals. Further, comparison of the equine PAR with the human counterpart shows that despite containing orthologs from an additional 1 Mb region beyond the human PAR1, the equine PAR is around 0.9 Mb smaller than the size of the human PAR. We theorize that the PAR varies in size and gene content across evolutionarily closely as well as distantly related mammals. Although striking differences like those observed between human and mouse may be rare, variations similar to those seen between horse and human may be prevalent among mammals.
(c) 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel