Although gene maps for a variety of evolutionarily diverged mammalian species have expanded rapidly during the past few years, until recently it has been difficult to precisely define chromosomal segments that are homologous between species. A solution to this problem has come from the development of Zoo-FISH, also known as cross-species chromosome painting. The use of Zoo-FISH to identify regions of chromosomal homology has allowed the transfer of information from map-rich species such as human and mouse to a wide variety of other species. From a Zoo-FISH analysis spanning four mammalian orders (Primates, Artiodactyla, Carnivora, and Perissodactyla), and involving eight species (human, pig, cattle, Indian muntjac, cat, American mink, harbor seal, and horse), three distinct classes of synteny conservation have been designated: (1) conservation of whole chromosome synteny, (2) conservation of large chromosomal blocks, and (3) conservation of neighboring segment combinations. This analysis has also made it possible to identify a set of chromosome segments (based on human chromosome equivalents) that probably made up the karyotype of the common ancestor of the four orders. This approach provides a basis for developing a picture of the ancestral mammalian karyotype, but a full understanding will depend on studies encompassing more diverse combinations of mammalian orders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas