Evolution and survival on eutherian sex chromosomes

Melissa A. Wilson, Kateryna D. Makova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since the two eutherian sex chromosomes diverged from an ancestral autosomal pair, the X has remained relatively generich, while the Y has lost most of its genes through the accumulation of deleterious mutations in nonrecombining regions. Presently, it is unclear what is distinctive about genes that remain on the Y chromosome, when the sex chromosomes acquired their unique evolutionary rates, and whether X-Y gene divergence paralleled that of paralogs located on autosomes. To tackle these questions, here we juxtaposed the evolution of X and Y homologous genes (gametologs) in eutherian mammals with their autosomal orthologs in marsupial and monotreme mammals. We discovered that genes on the X and Y acquired distinct evolutionary rates immediately following the suppression of recombination between the two sex chromosomes. The Y-linked genes evolved at higher rates, while the X-linked genes maintained the lower evolutionary rates of the ancestral autosomal genes. These distinct rates have been maintained throughout the evolution of X and Y. Specifically, in humans, most X gametologs and, curiously, also most Y gametologs evolved under stronger purifying selection than similarly aged autosomal paralogs. Finally, after evaluating the current experimental data from the literature, we concluded that unique mRNA/protein expression patterns and functions acquired by Y (versus X) gametologs likely contributed to their retention. Our results also suggest that either the boundary between sex chromosome strata 3 and 4 should be shifted or that stratum 3 should be divided into two strata.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000568
JournalPLoS genetics
Volume5
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Evolution and survival on eutherian sex chromosomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this