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J Mol Evol. 2016 May;82(4-5):199-206. doi: 10.1007/s00239-016-9735-y. Epub 2016 Apr 8.

Dosage Compensation and the Distribution of Sex-Biased Gene Expression in Drosophila: Considerations and Genomic Constraints.

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Center for Integrative Bioinformatics Vienna (CIBIV), Max F Perutz Laboratories (MFPL), University of Vienna and Medical University of Vienna, Dr. Bohrgasse 9, 1030, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Biology, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, USA.


Several studies in Drosophila have shown a paucity of male-biased genes (i.e., genes that express higher in males than in females) on the X chromosome. Dosage compensation (DC) is a regulatory mechanism of gene expression triggered in males that hypertranscribes the X-linked genes to the level of transcription in females. There are currently two different hypotheses about the effects of DC on the distribution of male-biased genes: (1) it might limit male-expression level, or (2) it might interfere with the male upregulation of gene expression. Here, we used previously published gene expression datasets to reevaluate both hypotheses and introduce a mutually exclusive prediction that helped us to reject the hypothesis that the paucity of male-biased genes in the X chromosome is due to a limit in the male-expression level. Our analysis also uncovers unanticipated details about how DC interferes with the genomic distribution of both, male-biased and female-biased genes. We suggest that DC actually interferes with female downregulation of gene expression and not male upregulation, as previously suggested.


Dosage compensation; Drosophila; Sex-biased gene expression; X chromosome

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