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Dev Cell. 2010 Sep 14;19(3):477-84. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2010.08.005.

Sexual dimorphism in mammalian autosomal gene regulation is determined not only by Sry but by sex chromosome complement as well.

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Gene Control Mechanisms and Disease Group, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Campus, Du Cane Road, London W12 0NN, UK.


Differences between males and females are normally attributed to developmental and hormonal differences between the sexes. Here, we demonstrate differences between males and females in gene silencing using a heterochromatin-sensitive reporter gene. Using "sex-reversal" mouse models with varying sex chromosome complements, we found that this differential gene silencing was determined by X chromosome complement, rather than sex. Genome-wide transcription profiling showed that the expression of hundreds of autosomal genes was also sensitive to sex chromosome complement. These genome-wide analyses also uncovered a role for Sry in modulating autosomal gene expression in a sex chromosome complement-specific manner. The identification of this additional layer in the establishment of sexual dimorphisms has implications for understanding sexual dimorphisms in physiology and disease.

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