• Characterization of Prdm9 in equids and sterility in mules

      Steiner, Cynthia C.; Ryder, Oliver A. (2013)
      Prdm9 (Meisetz) is the first speciation gene discovered in vertebrates conferring reproductive isolation. This locus encodes a meiosis-specific histone H3 methyltransferase that specifies meiotic recombination hotspots during gametogenesis. Allelic differences in Prdm9, characterized for a variable number of zinc finger (ZF) domains, have been associated with hybrid sterility in male house mice via spermatogenic failure at the pachytene stage. The mule, a classic example of hybrid sterility in mammals also exhibits a similar spermatogenesis breakdown, making Prdm9 an interesting candidate to evaluate in equine hybrids. In this study, we characterized the Prdm9 gene in all species of equids by analyzing sequence variation of the ZF domains and estimating positive selection. We also evaluated the role of Prdm9 in hybrid sterility by assessing allelic differences of ZF domains in equine hybrids. We found remarkable variation in the sequence and number of ZF domains among equid species, ranging from five domains in the Tibetan kiang and Asiatic wild ass, to 14 in the Grevy’s zebra. Positive selection was detected in all species at amino acid sites known to be associated with DNA-binding specificity of ZF domains in mice and humans. Equine hybrids, in particular a quartet pedigree composed of a fertile mule showed a mosaic of sequences and number of ZF domains suggesting that Prdm9 variation does not seem by itself to contribute to equine hybrid sterility.
    • Recalibrating Equus evolution using the genome sequence of an early Middle Pleistocene horse

      Orlando, Ludovic; Ginolhac, Aurélien; Zhang, Guojie; Froese, Duane; Albrechtsen, Anders; Stiller, Mathias; Schubert, Mikkel; Cappellini, Enrico; Petersen, Bent; Moltke, Ida; et al. (2013)
      Here we present a 1.12-times coverage draft genome from a horse bone recovered from permafrost dated to approximately 560–780 thousand years before present (kyr BP). Our data represent the oldest full genome sequence determined so far by almost an order of magnitude. For comparison, we sequenced the genome of a Late Pleistocene horse (43 kyr BP), and modern genomes of five domestic horse breeds (Equus ferus caballus), a Przewalski’s horse (E. f. przewalskii) and a donkey (E. asinus)....