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Trends Genet. 2009 May;25(5):226-33. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2009.03.005. Epub 2009 Apr 8.

The W, X, Y and Z of sex-chromosome dosage compensation.

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  • University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, Edward Grey Institute, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK. judith.mank@zoo.ox.ac.uk


In species with highly differentiated sex chromosomes, imbalances in gene dosage between the sexes can affect overall organismal fitness. Regulatory mechanisms were discovered in several unrelated animals, which counter gene-dose differences between females and males, and these early findings suggested that dosage-compensating mechanisms were required for sex-chromosome evolution. However, recent reports in birds and moths contradict this view because these animals locally compensate only a few genes on the sex chromosomes, leaving the majority with different expression levels in males and females. These findings warrant a re-examination of the evolutionary forces underlying dosage compensation.

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