At the University of Montreal, a new research on the potential role of male specific Y chromosome has been investigated. Previously, it was believed that their role is limited to the functions of the sexual organs, yet a scientist at University of Montreal demonstrated that it significantly impacts functions of other organs as well. These research findings were published in the Scientific Reports.
These compelling evidences shed new light on a little-known role of male specific Y chromosome genes, giving possible explanation to why men differently suffer than women from various diseases, including Covid-19.
— EurekAlert! (@EurekAlert) September 25, 2020
For years, research data showed that male specific Y chromosome is only restricted towards the contributions of genes on the male sex and have long believed to be restricted to their effects on reproductive functions in sex organs. However, increasing scientific evidences implicate that this Y chromosome also play potential role in impacting functions of somatic cells (all cells other than sex cells).
Recently, studies on mouse models reveal that Y chromone and some of its genetic variants are associated to play role in heart related, immunological, digestive and brain systems. In humans, genetic mutants of Y chromosome are found to be associated with coronary artery disease risk and with a host of disease manifestations, including shorter survival, increased cancer risk, cardiovascular events, Alzheimer disease and age-related macular degeneration.
There are 23 pairs of chromosomes in humans, including one pair of sex chromosome, where females carry two X sex chromosomes, and males carry one X and one Y chromosome. This male specific Y chromosome carries genes that females lack. Although these male genes are expressed in all cells of the body, their only confirmed role to date has been essentially limited to the functions of the sex organs. Therefore, in this study, study author, recruited a mouse model to perform a genetic manipulation that inactivated two male genes on the Y chromosome.
This genetic manipulation predisposed to altering several signaling pathways that play critical roles in certain functions of non-sex organ cells, such as, heart, brain, immunological cells that respond under stress.
The results revealed that these male genes performed functions to regulate in a way distinct from the usual way of mechanisms commonly used by most other genes on the non-sex chromosomes. Therefore, based on the results, it is inferred that Y chromosomes are presumed to, instead of specifically activating certain genes by direct action at the genome level. Therefore, revelation of these functional differences in function may explain in part why the functions of male Y chromosome genes have so far been poorly understood.
“Our discovery provides a better understanding of how male genes on the Y chromosome allow male cells to function differently from female cells,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Christian Deschepper, who is also an associate professor at McGill University, and director of the Experimental Cardiovascular Biology research unit of the Montreal Clinical Research Institute.