A complete comparative chromosome map of the white-browed gibbon (Hylobates hoolock, 2n = 38), white-cheeked gibbon (Hylobates leucogenys, 2n = 52), and human has been established by hybridising H. leucogenys chromosome-specific paints and human 24-colour paints onto H. hoolock metaphase chromosomes. In the 18 H. hoolock autosomes, we identified 62 conserved segments that showed DNA homology to regions of the 25 H. leucogenys autosomes. Numerous interchromosomal rearrangements differentiate the karyotypes of H. leucogenys and H. hoolock. Only H. hoolock chromosome 10 showed homology to one entire autosome of H. leucogenys. The hybridisation of human 24-colour paints not only confirmed most of the chromosome correspondences between human and H. hoolock established previously but also helped to correct five erroneous assignments and revealed three new segments. Our results demonstrate that the karyotypes of the extant gibbons have arisen mainly through extensive translocation events and that the karyotype of H. hoolock more closely resembles the ancestral karyotype of Hylobates, rather than the karyotype of H. leucogenys.   

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