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Y Chromosome

Sex Chromosome Evolution And Peculiarities

Discussions of sex chromosome evolution raise the question of the biological risks and benefits of sexual differentiation in organisms. Overall, sexual dimorphism enhances diversity that, in turn, improves the chances for evolutionary change and potential survival during periods of environmental change.

There are risks in the specialization of the Y chromosome, however. Besides its absence in females, lack of recombination for most of its physical territory except at its tips, and the strict pattern of paternal inheritance, the solitary cellular existence of the Y chromosome reduces the opportunity for DNA repair, which normally occurs while pairing during mitosis. This may explain the prevalence of multicopy DNA sequences on the Y, and why many of its genes have lost functionality. In fact, while genes predominately specific to male function tend to accumulate on the Y chromosome, other genes that have functional counterparts elsewhere will atrophy over evolutionary time, through the accumulation of uncorrected mutations. Thus the Y chromosome is slowing evolving toward a composition with fewer and fewer essential genes.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 4Y Chromosome - Paternal Inheritance, Sex Chromosome Evolution And Peculiarities, Molecular Anthropology Using The Y Chromosome - Sex Determination and Y Chromosome Genes