A gene thought to keep a single X chromosome turned on in mice plays no such role in humans, Johns Hopkins researchers report in the August issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.
The finding is likely to relegate the disproven gene to relative obscurity, at least in humans, says Barbara Migeon, M.D., of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, whose laboratory found the human version of the gene in 2001. It also moves the search for the gene from the X chromosome to the 22 other types of chromosomes found in human cells, she adds.
In mammals, one of the two X chromosomes inherited by all females is turned off during development to prevent a dangerous double dose of proteins. A gene called Xist unquestionably turns off X chromosomes in mice, humans and other mammals. Because every cell needs one active X chromosome, Xist must be suppressed on one X in both females and males (which have an X and a Y chromosome). Which gene (or genes) does this is still in question, says Migeon.
Joanna Downer | EurekAlert!
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