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Chromosome Res. 2009;17(6):811-20. doi: 10.1007/s10577-009-9072-8.

Enrichment of brain-related genes on the mammalian X chromosome is ancient and predates the divergence of synapsid and sauropsid lineages.

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  • 1Institute of Human Genetics, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.


Previous studies have revealed an enrichment of reproduction- and brain-related genes on the human X chromosome. In the present study, we investigated the evolutionary history that underlies this functional specialization. To do so, we analyzed the orthologous building blocks of the mammalian X chromosome in the chicken genome. We used Affymetrix chicken genome microarrays to determine tissue-selective gene expression in several tissues of the chicken, including testis and brain. Subsequently, chromosomal distribution of genes with tissue-selective expression was determined. These analyzes provided several new findings. Firstly, they showed that chicken chromosomes orthologous to the mammalian X chromosome exhibited an increased concentration of genes expressed selectively in brain. More specifically, the highest concentration of brain-selectively expressed genes was found on chicken chromosome GGA12, which shows orthology to the X chromosomal regions with the highest enrichment of non-syndromic X-linked mental retardation (MRX) genes. Secondly, and in contrast to the first finding, no enrichment of testis-selective genes could be detected on these chicken chromosomes. These findings indicate that the accumulation of brain-related genes on the prospective mammalian X chromosome antedates the divergence of sauropsid and synapsid lineages 315 million years ago, whereas the accumulation of testis-related genes on the mammalian X chromosome is more recent and due to adaptational changes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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