The bull Y chromosome has evolved to bully its way into gametes

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research,  Phys Org,  2020.

n a new study, published Nov. 18 in the journal Genome Research, scientists in the lab of Whitehead Institute Member David Page present the first ever full, high-resolution sequence of the Y chromosome of a Hereford bull. The research, more than a decade in the making, suggests that bulls’ Y chromosomes have evolved dozens of copies of the same genes in a selfish attempt to make more males—a move that is countered in the female-determining X chromosome.

“When you have an X and a Y chromosome, it’s a setup for conflict,” said Page, who is also a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Seeing this full blown competition between the cattle X and Y means we have to think more deeply about this conflict as a constant and general feature of sex chromosomes in mammals.”

This insight into the forces that govern sex chromosome behavior and evolution will help scientists in Page’s lab study genetic differences between males and females and how they play out in health and disease across every part of the body, Page added.

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