The male hypermethylated (MHM) region, located near the middle of the short arm of the Z chromosome of chickens, consists of approximately 210 tandem repeats of a BamHI 2.2-kb sequence unit. Cytosines of the CpG dinucleotides of this region are extensively methylated on the two Z chromosomes in the male but much less methylated on the single Z chromosome in the female. The state of methylation of the MHM region is established after fertilization by about the 1-day embryonic stage. The MHM region is transcribed only in the female from the particular strand into heterogeneous, high molecular-mass, non-coding RNA, which is accumulated at the site of transcription, adjacent to the DMRT1 locus, in the nucleus. The transcriptional silence of the MHM region in the male is most likely caused by the CpG methylation, since treatment of the male embryonic fibroblasts with 5-azacytidine results in hypo-methylation and active transcription of this region. In ZZW triploid chickens, MHM regions are hypomethylated and transcribed on the two Z chromosomes, whereas MHM regions are hypermethylated and transcriptionally inactive on the three Z chromosomes in ZZZ triploid chickens, suggesting a possible role of the W chromosome on the state of the MHM region.
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