In order to examine if Z-chromosome inactivation, which is analogous to X-chromosome inactivation in mammals, takes place in male birds having ZZ sex chromosomes, five Z-linked genes of chickens which are expressed in both sexes in certain tissues were selected: i.e. genes for growth hormone receptor, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor β3, aldolase B, β1,4-galactosyltransferase I, and iron-responsive element-binding protein (also known as cytosolic aconitase). Antisense or sense riboprobe was prepared from an intronic sequence of each gene and subjected to fluorescence in situ hybridization to nascent transcripts of each gene in a nucleus. Each antisense riboprobe hyridized to two spots of nascent RNA which corresponded to its gene loci on the two Z chromosomes in a majority of nuclei in a tissue of the male. The efficiency of detection of two spots per nucleus was comparable to that for the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene, an autosomal housekeeping gene. These results suggest strongly that Z-chromosome inactivation, i.e. virtual silence of transcription at one of the alleles, does not take place for these five Z-linked genes in male chickens.
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