Cytogenetic studies have shown that bandicoots (family Peramelidae) eliminate one X chromosome in females and the Y chromosome in males from some somatic tissues at different stages during development. The discovery of a polymorphism for X-linked phosphoglycerate kinase (PGK-1) in a population of Isoodon obesulus from Mount Gambier, South Australia, has allowed us to answer a number of long standing questions relating to the parental source of the eliminated X chromosome, X chromosome inactivation and reactivation in somatic and germ cells of female bandicoots. We have found no evidence of paternal PGK-1 allele expression in a wide range of somatic tissues and cell types from known female heterozygotes. We conclude that paternal X chromosome inactivation occurs in bandicoots as in other marsupial groups and that it is the paternally derived X chromosome that is eliminated from some cell types of females. The absence of PGK-1 paternal activity in somatic cells allowed us to examine the state of X chromosome activity in germ cells. Electrophoresis of germ cells from different aged pouch young heterozygotes showed only maternal allele expression in oogonia whereas an additional paternally derived band was observed in pre-dictyate oocytes. We conclude that reactivation of the inactive X chromosome occurs around the onset of meiosis in female bandicoots. As in other mammals, late replication is a common feature of the Y chromosome in male and the inactive X chromosome in female bandicoots. The basis of sex chromosome loss is still not known; however later timing of DNA synthesis is involved. Our finding that the paternally derived X chromosome is eliminated in females suggests that late DNA replication may provide the imprint for paternal X inactivation and the elimination of sex chromosomes in bandicoots.   

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