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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2010 Apr;20(2):179-89. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2010.03.008. Epub 2010 Apr 8.

Targeting X chromosomes for repression.

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  • HHMI and U.C. Berkeley, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Berkeley, CA 94720-3704, United States. bjmeyer@berkeley.edu <bjmeyer@berkeley.edu>


Dosage compensation is a chromosome-wide regulatory process that balances X-chromosome gene expression between males and females that have different complements. Recent advances have clarified the molecular nature of the Caenorhabditis elegans sex-determination signal, which tallies X-chromosome number relative to the ploidy and controls both the choice of sexual fate and the process of dosage compensation. Dissecting the sex signal has revealed molecular mechanisms by which small quantitative differences in intracellular signals are translated into dramatically different developmental fates. Recent experiments have also revealed fundamental principles by which C. elegans dosage compensation proteins recognize and bind X chromosomes of XX embryos to reduce gene expression. Dosage compensation proteins function not only in a condensin complex specialized for regulating X-chromosome gene expression, but also in distinct condensin complexes that control other chromosome-wide processes: chromosome segregation and meiotic crossover recombination. The reshuffling of interchangeable molecular parts creates independent machines with similar architecture but distinct biological functions.

2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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