H-Y antigen and the origin of XY female wood lemmings (Myopus schisticolor)

Stephen S. Wachtel, Gloria C. Koo, Susumu Ohno, Alfred Gropp, Vaithilingham G. Dev, Ramana Tantravahi, Dorothy A. Miller, Orlando J. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


THE wood lemming, Myopus schisticolor Liljeborg, is distinguished by an aberrant sex ratio, with a considerable excess of females, and by the fact that some females produce only daughters1,2. Fredga and his associates3 have provided a basis for understanding both these characteristics. They observed that 82 out of 181 female wood lemmings studied (45%) had an XY sex chromosome constitution, with chromosomal G-banding and C-banding patterns indistinguishable from those of XY males. On the other hand, the XY females were anatomically normal and indistinguishable from XX females. Furthermore, meiotic studies3 showed that the germ line in the somatically XY females was XX. The second X chromosome in the germ cells must have arisen by non-disjunction from the single X present in the XY cells. Thus all progeny from such females must have received copies of the same X chromosome. How does one reconcile these observations with the apparent function of the Y chromosome in mammalian sex determination4, or with more recent evidence that a particular Y-linked gene which controls presence of H-Y antigen is critical for differentiation of the male gonad? We have approached these questions serologically by typing male and female wood lemmings for expression of H-Y antigen, and we have found that all female wood lemmings are H-Y-.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-639
Number of pages2
Issue number5587
StatePublished - 1976
Externally publishedYes


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