Owing to their unique evolutionary history, modern mammalian X- and Y-chromosomes have highly divergent gene contents counterbalanced by regulatory features, which preferentially restrict expression of X- and Y-specific genes. These 2 characteristics make opposing predictions regarding the expected dissimilarity of X- vs. Y-chromosome influences on biological structure and function. Here, we quantify this dissimilarity using in vivo neuroimaging within a rare cohort of humans with diverse sex chromosome aneuploidies (SCAs). We show that X- and Y-chromosomes have opposing effects on overall brain size but exert highly convergent influences on local brain anatomy, which manifest across biologically distinct dimensions of the cerebral cortex. Large-scale online meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging data indicates that convergent sex chromosome dosage effects preferentially impact centers for social perception, communication, and decision-making. Thus, despite an almost complete lack of sequence homology, and opposing effects on overall brain size, X- and Y-chromosomes exert congruent effects on the proportional size of cortical systems involved in adaptive social functioning. These convergent X-Y effects (i) track the dosage of those few genes that are still shared by X- and Y-chromosomes, and (ii) may provide a biological substrate for the link between SCA and increased rates of psychopathology.
Keywords: aneuploidy; cortical thickness; pseudoautosomal; surface area.
Published by Oxford University Press 2014. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.