Characterisation of the marsupial-specific ATRY gene: Implications for the evolution of male-specific function

Daniel J. Park, Andrew J. Pask, Kim Huynh, Vincent R. Harley, Marilyn B. Renfree, Jennifer A.M. Graves

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Many or most genes on the mammal Y chromosome evolved a testis-specific function after diverging from an X-borne copy with a general function in both sexes. In marsupial but not eutherian mammals, a testis-specific orthologue (ATRY) of the widely expressed X-borne ATRX gene lies on the Y chromosome. Since mutations in human ATRX cause sex reversal, it is possible that one function of ATRY in marsupials is testicular differentiation. We report here the isolation and sequencing of the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) ATRY cDNA, and comparison of its sequence with that of tammar ATRX. The evolution of a testis-specific function for the ATRY protein distinct from the general role of ATRX in both sexes has been accompanied by sequence changes in many protein domains that would alter protein binding partners. A large open reading frame encodes a 1771 amino acid ATRY protein that has diverged extensively from ATRX. The conservation and loss of particular motifs identify those required for testicular function (ATRY) and function in other tissues (ATRX).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Chromatin remodelling
  • Sex determination
  • Sex differentiation

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