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.
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.
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