The X—a sexy chromosome

Authors

  • Jennifer A. Marshall Graves,

    Corresponding author
    1. Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
    • Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
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  • Margaret L. Delbridge

    1. Research School of Biological Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
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Abstract

There is new and convincing evidence(1) that the mammalian X chromosome, as well as the Y chromosome, contains an atypically high proportion of genes involved in sex and reproduction (SRR genes). Here we consider alternative explanations for this concentration. One possibility is that a particularly well-endowed autosome was “chosen” for a career as a sex chromosome. Alternatively, the high concentration of SRR genes may have resulted from the accumulation of these genes on the X after the degradation of the Y, either by transposition of autosomal SRR genes to a “selfish X”, or by acquisition of SRR functions by widely expressed genes on the X. We suggest experiments to distinguish these possibilities, and speculate on the implications of gathering evidence that genes with other functions, too, are not distributed uniformly over the genome. BioEssays 23:1091–1094, 2001. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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