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Is Human-X Chromosome Inactivation A Sex-Determining Device

Chandra, HS (1985) Is Human-X Chromosome Inactivation A Sex-Determining Device. In: Proceedings of the National Academy Science USA, 82 (20). pp. 6947-6949.

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The evolutionary function of X chromosome inactivation is thought to be dosage compensation. However, there is, at present, little evidence to suggest that most X chromosome-linked genes require such compensation. Another view--that X chromosome inactivation may be related to sex determination--is examined here. Consider a hypothetical DNA sequence regulating a major structural gene concerned with the determination of maleness. If this regulatory sequence occurs in both X and Y chromosomes and if its copy number in the Y chromosome is significantly greater than in the X chromosome, then the male-determining properties of the Y chromosome could be attributed to this higher copy number. On the other hand, if the Y chromosome has the same copy number of this sequence as the X chromosome, it is difficult to see how determination of two sexes would occur under such circumstances because XX and XY genomes would then be indistinguishable in this regard. Such a situation seems to occur in the human species with respect to the banded krait minor satellite, a repetitious DNA sequence associated with sex determination. This apparent difficulty may be resolved if X chromosome inactivation renders regulatory as well as structural genes nonfunctional and thereby brings about a significant reduction in the effective copy number of X chromosome-linked DNA sequences concerned with sex determination. It is suggested that X chromosome inactivation brings about, in this manner, a critical inequality between XX and XY embryos and that sex determination in humans is a consequence of this inequality. An analogous situation appears to exist in certain insects in which inactivation of a haploid set of chromosomes (and presumably, therefore, a 50% reduction in the effective copy number of most genes) is associated with maleness. If this line of reasoning is correct, it would suggest that sex determination may be the primary function of X chromosome inactivation.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Proceedings of the National Academy Science USA
Publisher: Natioanal Academy Science
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to National Academy of Science.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Microbiology & Cell Biology
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2010 09:39
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 05:44
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/22967

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