X-chromosome-located microRNAs in immunity: Might they explain male/female differences?

The X chromosome-genomic context may affect X-located miRNAs and downstream signaling, thereby contributing to the enhanced immune response of females

Authors

  • Iris Pinheiro,

    1. Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), Ghent, Belgium
    2. Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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  • Lien Dejager,

    1. Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), Ghent, Belgium
    2. Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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  • Claude Libert

    Corresponding author
    1. Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), Ghent, Belgium
    2. Department of Biomedical Molecular Biology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
    • Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), Ghent, Belgium
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Abstract

In this paper, we hypothesize that X chromosome-associated mechanisms, which affect X-linked genes and are behind the immunological advantage of females, may also affect X-linked microRNAs. The human X chromosome contains 10% of all microRNAs detected so far in the human genome. Although the role of most of them has not yet been described, several X chromosome-located microRNAs have important functions in immunity and cancer. We therefore provide a detailed map of all described microRNAs located on human and mouse X chromosomes, and highlight the ones involved in immune functions and oncogenesis. The unique mode of inheritance of the X chromosome is ultimately the cause of the immune disadvantage of males and the enhanced survival of females following immunological challenges. How these aspects influence X-linked microRNAs will be a challenge for researchers in the coming years, not only from an evolutionary point of view, but also from the perspective of disease etiology.

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