Mammalian ZFY sequences exist in reptiles regardless of sex-determining mechanism

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Science  28 Oct 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4878, pp. 567-569
DOI: 10.1126/science.3140382


In some reptiles, egg incubation temperature determines whether the embryo hatches as male or female; in others, sex chromosomes determine sex. A cloned gene (ZFY) representing the putative testis-determining factor in mammals was hybridized to genomic DNA of reptiles with sex chromosomes and to DNA of reptiles with temperature-dependent sex determination. No sex differences in hybridization patterns were observed. Hybridization of ZFY to polyadenylated RNA indicates that reptilian versions of this gene are expressed in embryos of both sexes during the temperature-sensitive period. If these highly conserved sequences are important in reptilian sex determination, then temperature-dependent and genotypic sex determination may have a similar molecular basis. For reptiles with XX/XY or ZZ/ZW systems, the absence of sex differences in hybridization patterns raises the question of whether the ZFY sequences reside on their sex chromosomes.