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 organs 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.
Heather Cosel | EurekAlert!
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