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Introduction: X chromosome inactivation (XCI) is an essential mechanism for dosage compensation between females and males in mammals. In females, XCI is controlled by a complex, conserved locus termed the X inactivation center (Xic), in which the lncRNA Xist is the key regulator. However, little is known about the Xic in species with unusual sex chromosomes. The genus Tokudaia includes three rodent species endemic to Japan. Tokudaia osimensis (TOS) and Tokudaia tokunoshimensis (TTO) lost the Y chromosome (XO/XO), while Tokudaia muenninki (TMU) acquired a neo-X region by fusion of the X chromosome and an autosome (XX/XY). We compared the gene location and structure in the Xic among Tokudaia species. Methods: Gene structure of nine genes in Xic were predicted, and the gene location and genome sequences of Xic were compared between mouse and Tokudaia species. The expression level of gene was confirmed by TPM calculation using RNA-seq data. Results: Compared to mouse, the Xic gene order and location were conserved in Tokudaia species. However, remarkable structure changes were observed in lncRNA genes, Xist and Tsix, in the XO/XO species. In Xist, important functional repeats, B-, C-, D-, and E-repeats, were partially or completely lost due to deletions in these species. RNA-seq data showed that female-specific expression patterns of Xist and Tsix were confirmed in TMU, however not in the XO/XO species. Additionally, three deletions and one inversion were confirmed in the intergenic region between Jpx and Ftx in the XO/XO species. Conclusion: Our findings indicate that even if the Xist and Tsix lncRNAs are expressed, they are incapable of producing a successful and lasting XCI in the XO/XO species. We hypothesized that the significant structure change in intergenic region of Jpx-Ftx resulted in the inability to perform the X chromosome inactivation, and, as a result, a lack of Xist expression. Our results collectively suggest that structural changes in the Xic occurred in the ancestral lineage of XO/XO species, likely due to the loss of one X chromosome and the Y chromosome and a consequence of the degradation of XCI system.

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