Guilt by association: non-coding RNAs, chromosome-specific proteins and dosage compensation in Drosophila

Trends Genet. 1999 Nov;15(11):454-8. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(99)01855-7.


Dosage compensation is a striking example of the interplay between gene-specific regulation and chromosomal architecture. This process has evolved to make X-linked gene expression equivalent in males with one X chromosome and females with two. Examining species at the molecular level has shown that dosage compensation is mediated by sex-specific factors that decorate the X chromosomes to regulate chromatin structure and gene expression. In Drosophila, dosage compensation is achieved, at least in part, through site-specific histone H4 acetylation, which is modulated by a male- and X-specific protein complex. The discovery of non-coding RNAs that 'paint' dosage-compensated X chromosomes in mammals and in Drosophila suggests that RNAs play an intriguing, unexpected role in the regulation of chromatin structure and gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromatin / ultrastructure
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / physiology*
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • X Chromosome / genetics*


  • Chromatin
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Insect Proteins