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Genome Res. 2006 Aug;16(8):995-1004. Epub 2006 Jul 6.

Tissue-specific expression and regulation of sexually dimorphic genes in mice.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


We report a comprehensive analysis of gene expression differences between sexes in multiple somatic tissues of 334 mice derived from an intercross between inbred mouse strains C57BL/6J and C3H/HeJ. The analysis of a large number of individuals provided the power to detect relatively small differences in expression between sexes, and the use of an intercross allowed analysis of the genetic control of sexually dimorphic gene expression. Microarray analysis of 23,574 transcripts revealed that the extent of sexual dimorphism in gene expression was much greater than previously recognized. Thus, thousands of genes showed sexual dimorphism in liver, adipose, and muscle, and hundreds of genes were sexually dimorphic in brain. These genes exhibited highly tissue-specific patterns of expression and were enriched for distinct pathways represented in the Gene Ontology database. They also showed evidence of chromosomal enrichment, not only on the sex chromosomes, but also on several autosomes. Genetic analyses provided evidence of the global regulation of subsets of the sexually dimorphic genes, as the transcript levels of a large number of these genes were controlled by several expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) hotspots that exhibited tissue-specific control. Moreover, many tissue-specific transcription factor binding sites were found to be enriched in the sexually dimorphic genes.

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