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Trends Genet. 2013 Dec;29(12):677-83. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2013.07.005. Epub 2013 Aug 14.

Sex chromosome dosage compensation: definitely not for everyone.

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University College London, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, The Darwin Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK. Electronic address:


Sex chromosomes often entail gene dose differences between the sexes, which if not compensated for, lead to differences between males and females in the expression of sex-linked genes. Recent work has shown that different organisms respond to sex chromosome dose in a variety of ways, ranging from complete sex chromosome dosage compensation in some species to active compensation of only a minority genes in other organisms. Although we still do not understand the implications of the diversity in sex chromosome dosage compensation, its realization has created exciting new opportunities to study the evolution, mechanism, and consequences of gene regulation. However, confusion remains as to what sorts of genes are likely to be dosage compensated, how dosage compensation evolves, and why complete dosage compensation appears to be limited to male heterogametic species. In this review, I survey the status of dosage compensation to answer these questions and identify current controversies in this fast-moving field.


X chromosome; Z chromosome; gene expression; sex chromosome dosage compensation; sex chromosome evolution

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