February 23, 2012

Human Y-chromosome stable, not going extinct anytime soon

Years ago it was claimed (Aitken & Graves 2002, ppv) that the human Y-chromosome was in rapid decay and would vanish in some five million years. Today I read at BBC and Nature (article) that this won't happen after all, being in fact quite stable.

The main finding seems to be that the comparison with chimpanzee Y chromosome alone was misleading and that further comparison in the simian tree (rhesus macaque) actually found Y chromosomes very similar to those of our species. 

The macaque Y contained just one gene that humans have lost, and that gene resides on a particularly unstable portion of the Y. The human Y has grown much longer than the macaque’s, but the genes were mostly the same.

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