The compact genome of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis has been sequenced. Chromosome karyotype and mapping of the genome sequence information on each of the 14 pairs of chromosomes are essential for genome-wide studies of gene expression and function in this basal chordate. Although the small chromosome size (most pairs measuring less than 2 μm) complicates accurate chromosome pairing based on morphology alone, the present results suggest that 20 chromosomes are metacentric and 8 are submetacentric or subtelocentric, and two pairs of large chromosomes (#1 and #2) were defined. The characterization of chromosomes by FISH and staining with propidium iodide indicated that 18S/28S ribosomal gene repeats are present in the short arms of three pairs of chromosomes and that the short arms of these pairs show remarkable size polymorphism. In addition, each chromosome was characterized molecular cytogenetically by mapping representative BAC clones with FISH. The present study is therefore a first step in expanding the karyotype analysis and entire physical mapping of the genome sequence of Ciona intestinalis.
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