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Chromosoma. 2007 Apr;116(2):95-106. Epub 2006 Nov 24.

The right dose for every sex.

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  • 1European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


Sex chromosomes in different organisms are studied as model systems for chromatin regulation of transcription and epigenetics. Similar to the female X in mammals, the male X chromosome in Drosophila is involved in the process of dosage compensation. However, in contrast to one of the mammalian female X chromosomes undergoing inactivation, the Drosophila male X is transcriptionally upregulated by approximately twofold. The Drosophila male X is a remarkable example for a specialized, transcriptionally hyperactive chromatin domain that facilitates the study of chromatin regulation in the context of transcription, nuclear architecture, and chromatin remodeling. In addition, the rich phenomenology of dosage compensation in Drosophila provides an opportunity to explore the complexities of gene regulation through epigenetic chromatin configurations, histone modifications, and noncoding RNAs. Male-specific lethal (MSL) factors constitute the MSL complex or dosage compensation complex and are important for transcription regulation of X-linked genes. Recent biochemical studies have identified a number of interesting factors that associate with the MSL complex including components of the nuclear pore complex and exosome subunits. Furthermore, global analysis of MSL complex binding showed that MSL complexes are enriched on genes with preferential binding to 3' end of genes. Taken together, these findings suggest a role of the MSL complex in transcription elongation, RNA processing, and/or nuclear organization.

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