12th edition of my human genetics textbook


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Glenn Nichols, surrounded by his hospice team. The author is in yellow.

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Genetic Linkage

Y Chromosomes in the News and #MeToo

September 18, 2018

Tags: Y chromosome

The firing of CBS CEO Les Moonves for his alleged history of revolting attacks on women and the upcoming one-year anniversary of Ronan Farrow’s seminal New Yorker piece on Harvey Weinstein and of Alyssa Milano’s #MeToo tweet echoing Tarana Burke’s 2006 call-to-action, got me pondering the Y chromosome.

Genomically speaking, the diminutive Y is the only thing that distinguishes males from females (see “Y Envy"). Both sexes have X chromosomes, and although mitochondrial DNA passes from females to all offspring, we all have mitochondria. Only the Y is the male’s alone.

If size matters, the Y chromosome loses. The human X has about 1500 protein-encoding genes compared to the Y’s 231, some of which have counterparts on the X. Only a handful of Y genes, in the “male-specific region” of the chromosome, are uniquely male. They include the SRY gene that determines maleness and a few others that control fertility.

So the Y chromosome can tell us some interesting things about the male of the species.

To continue reading go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared.

The Y Chromosome: Size Matters

February 22, 2012

Tags: Y chromosome, David Page, Jennifer A. Marshall-Graves, Jennifer Hughes, X chromosome, Ricki Lewis, Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications

The human Y chromosome
Let me get this straight: The human Y chromosome has barely changed from that of a rhesus macaque, a monkey from whom we parted ways some 25 million years ago, and that’s good news? I suppose compared to disappearing, it is.

For several editions now, my human genetics textbook has run an “In Their Own Words” essay in which MIT’s David Page, protector of the Y, has defended the measly male chromosome against charges from Jennifer A. Marshall-Graves, of Australian National University, that it is disappearing. She helpfully points out in my book, “You can lack a Y and not be dead, just female,” then goes on to call the Y “a pathetic little chromosome that has few genes interposed with lots of junk.” (more…)

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