Chromosome-length genome assemblies and cytogenomic analyses of pangolins reveal remarkable chromosome counts and plasticity
chromosome number, karyotype, Pholidota, Phataginus tricuspis, genome assembly
We report the first chromosome-length genome assemblies for three species in the mammalian order Pholidota: the white-bellied, Chinese, and Sunda pangolins. Surprisingly, we observe extraordinary karyotypic plasticity within this order and, in female white-bellied pangolins, the largest number of chromosomes reported in a Laurasiatherian mammal: 2n = 114. We perform the first karyotype analysis of an African pangolin and report a Y-autosome fusion in white-bellied pangolins, resulting in 2n = 113 for males. We employ a novel strategy to confirm the fusion and identify the autosome involved by finding the pseudoautosomal region (PAR) in the female genome assembly and analyzing the 3D contact frequency between PAR sequences and the rest of the genome in male and female white-bellied pangolins. Analyses of genetic variability show that white-bellied pangolins have intermediate levels of genome-wide heterozygosity relative to Chinese and Sunda pangolins, consistent with two moderate declines of historical effective population size. Our results reveal a remarkable feature of pangolin genome biology and highlight the need for further studies of these unique and endangered mammals.
Houck, Marlys L.; Klaus-Peter Koepfli; Taylor Hains; Ruqayya Khan; Suellen J. Charter; Julie A. Fronczek; Ann C. Misuraca; Sergei Kliver; Polina L. Perelman; Violetta R. Beklemisheva; Alexander Graphodatsky; Shu-Jin Luo; Stephen J. O’Brien; Norman T.-L. Lim; Jason S. C. Chin; Vanessa Guerra; Gaik Tamazian; Arina Omer; David Weisz; Kenneth Kaemmerer; Ginger Sturgeon; Joseph Gaspard; Alicia Hahn; Mark McDonough; Isabel Garcia-Treviño; Jordan Gentry; Rob L. Coke; Jan E. Janecka; Ryan J. Harrigan; Jen Tinsman; Thomas B. Smith; Erez Lieberman Aiden; and Olga Dudchenko. 2023. "Chromosome-length genome assemblies and cytogenomic analyses of pangolins reveal remarkable chromosome counts and plasticity." Chromosome Research , (13). doi:10.1007/s10577-023-09722-y.