Some inconvenient truths about sex chromosome dosage compensation and the potential role of sexual conflict

Evolution. 2011 Aug;65(8):2133-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01316.x. Epub 2011 May 12.


Sex chromosome dosage compensation was once thought to be required to balance gene expression levels between sex-linked and autosomal genes in the heterogametic sex. Recent evidence from a range of animals has indicated that although sex chromosome dosage compensation exists in some clades, it is far from a necessary companion to sex chromosome evolution, and is in fact rather rare in animals. This raises questions about why complex dosage compensation mechanisms arise in some clades when they are not strictly needed, and suggests that the role of sex-specific selection in sex chromosome gene regulation should be reassessed. We show there exists a tremendous diversity in the mechanisms that regulate gene dosage and argue that sexual conflict may be an overlooked agent responsible for some of the variation seen in sex chromosome gene dose regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Chromosomes / genetics*