The pattern of X-Y chromosome pairing in male meiosis is an important taxonomic feature of grey voles of the genus Microtus. Asynaptic sex chromosomes have been found in the majority of species of the Palearctic phylogenetic lineage of this genus, while normal X-Y synapsis has been observed in the species of subgenus Pallasiinus belonging to the Asian phylogenetic lineage. We analyzed sex chromosome pairing and recombination in M. maximowiczii, M. mujanensis and M. fortis which also belong to the Asian phylogenetic lineage (subgenus Alexandromys). Using immunostaining for the proteins of the synaptonemal complex (SCP3) and recombination nodules (MLH1) we demonstrated that X and Y chromosomes of these species paired and recombined in a short subtelomeric region. This indicates that the sex chromosomes of these species retain an ancestral fully functional pseudoautosomal region, which has been lost or rearranged in the asynaptic species of the genus Microtus.

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