Caenorhabditis elegans compensates for the difference in X chromosome dosage between the sexes by regulating transcript levels

Cell. 1986 Dec 26;47(6):871-81. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(86)90802-0.


The primary sex-determining signal in the nematode C. elegans is the ratio of X chromosomes to sets of autosomes (X/A ratio). As a consequence, males (XO; ratio 0.5) and hermaphrodites (XX; ratio 1.0) possess different doses of X-linked genes. Here we demonstrate that C. elegans compensates for this disparity in gene dose by equalizing the levels of X-specific mRNA transcripts in the two sexes. Moreover, we show that mutations in three autosomal genes disrupt the process of dosage compensation. Reduction in the activity of either dpy-21, dpy-27, or dpy-28 results in the overexpression of X-specific genes, 2- to 3-fold above wild-type levels.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis / genetics*
  • Disorders of Sex Development
  • Dosage Compensation, Genetic*
  • Female
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Myosins / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • X Chromosome*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Myosins