Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Genetic basis for gender differences in the liver


Scientists at the University of Michigan Medical School have identified two genes responsible for an important, yet often overlooked difference between the sexes.

One of the less evident physiological differences between males and females resides in the liver. Male and female livers express different subsets of genes, which affect the organ’s ability to metabolize certain drugs and hormones. This in turn impacts numerous processes, such as reproduction. While the sexual dimorphism of the liver has been recognized for several decades, scientists are only recently beginning to uncover the genes involved.

In the November 1 issue of Genes & Development, Dr. Diane Robins and colleagues report on their discovery of two neighboring genes, Rsl1 and Rsl2, that repress male-specific liver gene expression in female mice. They found that female mice harboring mutations in Rsl genes aberrantly turn on male-specific liver genes, causing the female livers to adopt characteristically male patterns of gene expression.

According to Dr. Christopher Krebs, first author of the study, "Using genetic tools, we set out to clone Rsl because of its role in establishing gender differences in liver function, particularly in drug metabolism. Instead of just one gene, we discovered a huge cluster of related genes. To our surprise, it takes a pair of these genes to restore normal liver gene expression to mutant mice."

Interestingly, the researchers note that the Rsl genes appear to function through a division of labor, with each regulating a subset of male-specific genes. While these genes appear to share the control of normal hepatic gene expression, under some circumstances one may be able to compensate for defects in the other.

Dr. Robins and colleagues determined that Rsl1 and Rsl2 belong to a large family of structurally related genes, called the KRAB-ZFP gene family, with over 200 members in the mouse and human genomes. Although biochemical work has suggested a role for KRAB-ZFPs in gene silencing, this current study provides the first functional role for any KRAB-ZFP in vivo.

Dr. Robins suggests that these genes may be most interesting from an evolutionary perspective. "This gene family has arisen recently in evolution, and diversified rapidly, but the way they act is highly conserved. Since Rsl regulates genes at puberty that are involved in reproduction and hormone metabolism, it may be that not only Rsl, but also other members of the KRAB-ZFP family, influence functions that lead to speciation."

Heather Cosel | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>