Scientists reveal how sex impacts gene expression in mammals. According to a new study from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, genome-wide variations in gene expression in female and male mammals provides new insight into the origins and evolution of mammalian sexual dimorphism, thus providing a potential explanation for sex-specific differences in human health and disease.
To better understand how sex affects the mammalian genome, research Sahin Naqvi and colleagues performed a genome-wide, multi-tissue comparative survery across five mammalian species, investigating sex-biased gene expression. Scientists reveal how sex impacts gene expression in mammals
They did so by collecting RNA sequencing data from female and male macaques, mice, rats and dogs for 12 different tissues, each of which represented a germ layer as well as most major organ systems.
Then, non-human data was compared to human RNA-sequencing data from the Genotype Tissue Expression Consortium (GTEx), a catalogue of all major tissue gene expression in the human body.
This comparison revealed hundreds of conserved sex-biased gene expressions in each tissue, each of which contributes to sex-biased differences.
For example, the researchers found that almost 12% of the sex difference in average human height is caused by conserved sex biases in gene expression.
However, the researchers also found that most sex bias in gene expression is a relatively recent evolutionary adaptation, and is therefore not shared between all mammalian lineages.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Explode