Y-chromosome evolution: emerging insights into processes of Y-chromosome degeneration

Nat Rev Genet. 2013 Feb;14(2):113-24. doi: 10.1038/nrg3366.


The human Y chromosome is intriguing not only because it harbours the master-switch gene that determines gender but also because of its unusual evolutionary history. The Y chromosome evolved from an autosome, and its evolution has been characterized by massive gene decay. Recent whole-genome and transcriptome analyses of Y chromosomes in humans and other primates, in Drosophila species and in plants have shed light on the current gene content of the Y chromosome, its origins and its long-term fate. Furthermore, comparative analysis of young and old Y chromosomes has given further insights into the evolutionary and molecular forces triggering Y-chromosome degeneration and into the evolutionary destiny of the Y chromosome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes, Human, Y / genetics*
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Conversion
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta / genetics
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics
  • Plants / genetics
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Sex Chromosomes / genetics
  • Y Chromosome / genetics*