Mammalian X chromosome dosage compensation: Perspectives from the germ line

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Abstract

Sex chromosomes are advantageous to mammals, allowing them to adopt a genetic rather than environmental sex determination system. However, sex chromosome evolution also carries a burden, because it results in an imbalance in gene dosage between females (XX) and males (XY). This imbalance is resolved by X dosage compensation, which comprises both X chromosome inactivation and X chromosome upregulation. X dosage compensation has been well characterized in the soma, but not in the germ line. Germ cells face a special challenge, because genome wide reprogramming erases epigenetic marks responsible for maintaining the X dosage compensated state. Here we explain how evolution has influenced the gene content and germ line specialization of the mammalian sex chromosomes. We discuss new research uncovering unusual X dosage compensation states in germ cells, which we postulate influence sexual dimorphisms in germ line development and cause infertility in individuals with sex chromosome aneuploidy.

Journal details

Journal BioEssays
Volume 40
Issue number 6
Pages e1800024
Publication date

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