X-linked gene expression in the Virginia opossum: differences between the paternally derived Gpd and Pgk-A loci. Academic Article uri icon


  • Expression of X-linked glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) and phosphoglycerate kinase-A (PGK-A) in the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) was studied electrophoretically in animals from natural populations and those produced through controlled laboratory crosses. Blood from most of the wild animals exhibited a common single-banded phenotype for both enzymes. Rare variant animals, regardless of sex, exhibited single-banded phenotypes different in mobility from the common mobility class of the respective enzyme. The laboratory crosses confirmed the allelic basis for the common and rare phenotypes. Transmission of PGK-A phenotypes followed the pattern of determinate (nonrandom) inactivation of the paternally derived Pgk-A allele, and transmission of G6PD also was consistent with this pattern. A survey of tissue-specific expression of G6PD phenotypes of heterozygous females revealed, in almost all tissues, three-banded patterns skewed in favor of the allele that was expressed in blood cells. Three-banded patterns were never observed in males or in putatively homozygous females. These patterns suggest simultaneous, but unequal, expression of the maternally and paternally derived Gpd alleles within individual cells (i.e., partial paternal allele expression). The absence of such partial expression was noted in a parallel survey of females heterozygous at the Pgk-A locus. Thus, it appears that Gpd and Pgk-A are X-linked in D. virginiana and subject to preferential paternal allele inactivation, but that dosage compensation may not be complete for all paternally derived X-linked genes. The data establish the similarity between the American and Australian marsupial patterns of X-linked gene regulation and, thus, support the hypothesis that this form of dosage compensation was present in the early marsupial lineage that gave rise to these modern marsupial divisions. In addition, the data provide the first documentation of the differential expression of two X-linked genes in a single marsupial species. Because of its combination of X-linked variation, high fecundity, and short generation time, D. virginiana is a unique model for pursuing questions about marsupial gene regulation that have been difficult to approach through studies of Australian species.

published proceedings

  • Genetics

author list (cited authors)

  • Samollow, P. B., Ford, A. L., & VandeBerg, J. L.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Samollow, PB||Ford, AL||VandeBerg, JL

publication date

  • January 1987