Sex chromosomes: Why the Y genes matter

Several genes have been lost from the Y chromosome in humans and other mammals, according to research published in Genome Biology. The study shows that essential Y genes are rescued by relocating to other chromosomes, and it identifies a potentially important genetic factor in male infertility.

The Y chromosome is dramatically smaller than the X chromosome and has already lost nearly all of the 640 genes it once shared with the X chromosome.

It is supposed that the loss of a gene from the human Y chromosome can be followed by the X chromosome ‘backing up’ a copy onto an autosome, indicating the importance of this gene. In humans, the autosomal copy of the gene showed increased activity in the testis compared to other tissues, suggesting an essential role in sperm production, and a possible genetic factor in male infertility.


BioMed Central. “Sex chromosomes: Why the Y genes matter.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 May 2015. <>.