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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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  • 1University of Oxford, Department of Zoology, Edward Grey Institute, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, 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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