A study conducted by the CSIR-CCMB has given fresh insights into the role played by the Y chromosome in the DNA. The study done by a team of researchers headed by Professor Rachel Jesudasan, Advisor (Research) at the Department Genetics of Osmania University, throws light on novel regulatory functions of the Y chromosome. Published in BMC Biology, the research suggests that beyond determining the gender of a person, the Y chromosome also regulates genes on other chromosomes involved in male reproduction.
According to scientists from the CCMB, the Y chromosome is known to be the maledetermining chromosome. It is smaller in comparison to the X chromosome – its partner. It was not known to have any function except sex determination.
“Our previous studies had shown that sex and species-specific repeats on the Y chromosome regulate a reproductively important protein-coding RNA transcribed from chromosome number 1. Along with this study, there are reports of interaction between the Y chromosome and other chromosomes. Thus, consolidating the two studies, we see a more pervasive regulation of genes associated with reproduction by the Y chromosome,” said Prof Jesudasan.
“As the species evolve, these repeats also co-evolve. Gradually, they are no longer able to regulate the reproduction of the species. Thus, it appears that these repeats are at the fulcrum of species identity and evolution,” she added. The new study is crucial, as generally, the DNA sequences on the Y chromosome are by and large present in multiple copies and very few of them code for proteins. Given no obvious function, most parts of DNA of Y chromosome were considered junk.