Molecular biology has revolutionized the ability to detect genetic differences between individuals, including their sex. We have been analysing a 20 kb region of the Y chromosome from cattle. Within this segment are a number of targets that can be amplified in a PCR reaction, thereby revealing the sex of the cells from which the DNA was extracted. Routinely, cells biopsied from embryos are sexed using an assay that includes in one reaction mixture a set of Y-specific oligonucleotide probes and a set of autosomal probes. These autosomal probes generate a PCR product from both male and female DNA, therefore providing an internal control to verify that the assay was successful. This region of the Y chromosome contains male-specific repetitive elements which are interspersed with a highly repetitive SINE sequence (short interspersed elements) that is scattered throughout the genome and typically found in the 5’ and 3' regions flanking expressed genes. DNA analyses, whether for embryo sexing or for characterisation of specific alleles, have the potential to aid in selection of individual animals, although the cost of the manipulations required may still be too high for routine applications.

A. Wildeman

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 21. Gene mapping; polymorphisms; disease genetic markers; marker assisted selection; gene expression; transgenes; non-convention, , 98–104, 1994
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