Sex-determination mechanisms in birds and mammals evolved independently for more than 300 million years. Unlike mammals, sex determination in birds operates through a ZZ/ZW sex chromosome system, in which the female is the heterogametic sex. However, the molecular mechanism remains to be elucidated. Comparative gene mapping revealed that several genes on human chromosome 9 (HSA 9) have homologs on the chicken Z chromosome (GGA Z), indicating the common ancestry of large parts of GGA Z and HSA 9. Based on chromosome homology maps, we isolated a Z-linked chicken ortholog of DMRT1, which has been implicated in XY sex reversal in humans. Its location on the avian Z and within the sex-reversal region on HSA 9p suggests that DMRT1 represents an ancestral dosage-sensitive gene for vertebrate sex-determination. Z dosage may be crucial for male sexual differentiation/determination in birds.   

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