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Epigenetic Aspects of X-Chromosome Dosage Compensation

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Science  10 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5532, pp. 1083-1085
DOI: 10.1126/science.1063073

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The X chromosomes of mammals and fruit flies exhibit unusual properties that have evolved to deal with the different dosages of X-linked genes in males (XY) and females (XX). The X chromosome dosage-compensation mechanisms discovered in these species are evolutionarily unrelated, but exhibit surprising parallels in their regulatory strategies. These features include the importance of noncoding RNAs, and epigenetic spreading of chromatin-modifying activities.

Sex chromosomes have posed a fascinating puzzle for biologists. The dissimilar organization, gene content, and regulation of the X and Y chromosomes are thought to reflect selective forces acting on original pairs of identical chromosomes (1–3). The result in many organisms is a male-specific Y chromosome that has lost most of its original genetic content, and a difference in dosage of the X chromosome in males (XY) and females (XX).

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