The pseudoautosomal regions (PAR1 and PAR2) of the human X and Y chromosomes pair and recombine during meiosis. Thus genes in this region are not inherited in a strictly sex-linked fashion. PAR1 is located at the terminal region of the short arms and PAR2 at the tips of the long arms of these chromosomes. To date, 24 genes have been assigned to the PAR1 region. Half of these have a known function. In contrast, so far only 4 genes have been discovered in the PAR2 region. Deletion of the PAR1 region results in failure of pairing and male sterility. The gene SHOX (short stature homeobox-containing) resides in PAR1. SHOX haploinsufficiency contributes to certain features in Turner syndrome as well as the characteristics of Leri-Weill dyschondrosteosis. Only two of the human PAR1 genes have mouse homologues. These do not, however, reside in the mouse PAR1 region but are autosomal. The PAR regions seem to be relics of differential additions, losses, rearrangements and degradation of the X and Y chromosome in different mammalian lineages. Marsupials have three homologues of human PAR1 genes in their autosomes, although, in contrast to mouse, do not have a PAR region at all. The disappearance of PAR from other species seems likely and this region will only be rescued by the addition of genes to both X and Y, as has occurred already in lemmings. The present review summarizes the current understanding of the evolution of PAR and provides up-to-date information about individual genes residing in this region.
Keywords: PAR; Pseudoautosomal region; SHOX; XE7; sex chromosomes.