Rapid Macrosatellite Evolution Promotes X-Linked Hybrid Male Sterility in a Feline Interspecies Cross

Kevin R. Bredemeyer, Christopher M. Seabury, Mark J. Stickney, John R. McCarrey, Bridgett M. vonHoldt, William J. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The sterility or inviability of hybrid offspring produced from an interspecific mating result from incompatibilities between parental genotypes that are thought to result from divergence of loci involved in epistatic interactions. However, attributes contributing to the rapid evolution of these regions also complicates their assembly, thus discovery of candidate hybrid sterility loci is difficult and has been restricted to a small number of model systems. Here we reported rapid interspecific divergence at the DXZ4 macrosatellite locus in an interspecific cross between two closely related mammalian species: the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) and the Jungle cat (Felis chaus). DXZ4 is an interesting candidate due to its structural complexity, copy number variability, and described role in the critical yet complex biological process of X-chromosome inactivation. However, the full structure of DXZ4 was absent or incomplete in nearly every available mammalian genome assembly given its repetitive complexity. We compared highly continuous genomes for three cat species, each containing a complete DXZ4 locus, and discovered that the felid DXZ4 locus differs substantially from the human ortholog, and that it varies in copy number between cat species. Additionally, we reported expression, methylation, and structural conformation profiles of DXZ4 and the X chromosome during stages of spermatogenesis that have been previously associated with hybrid male sterility. Collectively, these findings suggest a new role for DXZ4 in male meiosis and a mechanism for feline interspecific incompatibility through rapid satellite divergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5588-5609
Number of pages22
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene mapping
  • Genome assembly
  • Interspecies hybrid
  • Macrosatellite
  • Meiosis
  • X chromosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Rapid Macrosatellite Evolution Promotes X-Linked Hybrid Male Sterility in a Feline Interspecies Cross'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this