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Genome Biol Evol. 2009 Dec 23;2:44-52. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evp054.

Widespread transcriptional autosomal dosage compensation in Drosophila correlates with gene expression level.

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Department of Biological Sciences, East Tennessee State University, USA.


Little is known about dosage compensation in autosomal genes. Transcription-level compensation of deletions and other loss-of-function mutations may be a mechanism of dominance of wild-type alleles, a ubiquitous phenomenon whose nature has been a subject of a long debate. We measured gene expression in two isogenic Drosophila lines heterozygous for long deletions and compared our results with previously published gene expression data in a line heterozygous for a long duplication. We find that a majority of genes are at least partially compensated at transcription, both for (1/2)-fold dosage (in heterozygotes for deletions) and for 1.5-fold dosage (in heterozygotes for a duplication). The degree of compensation does not vary among functional classes of genes. Compensation for deletions is stronger for highly expressed genes. In contrast, the degree of compensation for duplications is stronger for weakly expressed genes. Thus, partial transcriptional compensation appears to be based on regulatory mechanisms that insure high transcription levels of some genes and low transcription levels of other genes, instead of precise maintenance of a particular homeostatic expression level. Given the ubiquity of transcriptional compensation, dominance of wild-type alleles may be at least partially caused by of the regulation at transcription level.


Drosophila; deletions; dominance; dosage compensation; duplications; regulation of transcription

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