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Proc Biol Sci. Jan 22, 1999; 266(1415): 203–209.
PMCID: PMC1689664

An apparent excess of sex- and reproduction-related genes on the human X chromosome.


We describe here the results of a search of Mendelian inheritance in man, GENDIAG and other sources which suggest that, in comparison with autosomes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 11, the X chromosome may contain a significantly higher number of sex- and reproduction-related (SRR) genes. A similar comparison between X-linked entries and a subset of randomly chosen entries from the remaining autosomes also indicates an excess of genes on the X chromosome with one or more mutations affecting sex determination (e.g. DAX1), sexual differentiation (e.g. androgen receptor) or reproduction (e.g. POF1). A possible reason for disproportionate occurrence of such genes on the X chromosome could be that, during evolution, the 'choice' of a particular pair of homomorphic chromosomes for specialization as sex chromosomes may be related to the number of such genes initially present in it or, since sex determination and sexual dimorphism are often gene dose-dependent processes, the number of such genes necessary to be regulated in a dose-dependent manner. Further analysis of these data shows that XAR, the region which has been added on to the short arm of the X chromosome subsequent to eutherian-marsupial divergence, has nearly as high a proportion of SRR genes as XCR, the conserved region of the X chromosome. These observations are consistent with current hypotheses on the evolution of sexually antagonistic traits on sex chromosomes and suggest that both XCR and XAR may have accumulated SRR traits relatively rapidly because of X linkage.

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