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Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2008;9:109-27. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genom.9.081307.164220.

A bird's-eye view of sex chromosome dosage compensation.

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  • 1Department of Physiological Science and Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology of the Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA. arnold@ucla.edu


Intensive study of a few genetically tractable species with XX/XY sex chromosomes has produced generalizations about the process of sex chromosome dosage compensation that do not fare well when applied to ZZ/ZW sex chromosome systems, such as those in birds. The inherent sexual imbalance in dose of sex chromosome genes has led to the evolution of sex-chromosome-wide mechanisms for balancing gene dosage between the sexes and relative to autosomal genes. Recent advances in our knowledge of avian genomes have led to a reexamination of sex-specific dosage compensation (SSDC) in birds, which is less effective than in known XX/XY systems. Insights about the mechanisms of SSDC in birds also suggest similarities to and differences from those in XX/XY species. Birds are thus offering new opportunities for studying dosage compensation in a ZZ/ZW system, which should shed light on the evolution of SSDC more broadly.

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