Letter | Published:

Male-driven evolution of DNA sequences

Nature volume 362, pages 745747 (22 April 1993) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

IT is commonly believed1,2 that the mutation rate is much higher in the human male germ line than in the female germ line because the number of germ-cell divisions per generation is much larger in males than in females. But direct estimation of mutation rates is difficult, relying mainly on sex-linked genetic diseases3, so the ratio (αm) of male to female mutation rates is not clear. It has been noted4 that if αm is very large, then the rate of synonymous substitution in X-linked genes should be only 2/3 of that in autosomal genes, and comparison of human and rodent genes supported this prediction4. As the number of X-linked genes used in the study was small and the X-linked and autosomal sequences were non-homologous, and given that the synonymous rate varies among genes5, we sequenced the last intron (˜1 kb) of the Y-linked and X-linked zinc-finger-protein genes (ZFY and ZFX) in humans, orang-utans, baboons and squirrel monkeys. The ratio Y/X of the substitution rate in the Y-linked intron to that in the X-linked intron is ˜2.3, which is close to that estimated from synonymous rates in the ZFY and ZFX genes6–8 and implies αm≈6. This estimate of αm supports the view that the evolution of DNA sequences in higher primates is male-driven. It is, however, much lower than the previous estimate4 and therefore raises a number of issues.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    Ann. Eugen. 13, 262–271 (1947).

  2. 2.

    Lancet II, 312 (1955).

  3. 3.

    & Human Genetics (Springer, Berlin and Heidelberg, Germany, 1986).

  4. 4.

    , , , & Cold Spring Harbor Symp. quant. Biol. 52, 863–867 (1987).

  5. 5.

    & Fundamentals of Molecular Evolution (Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, 1991).

  6. 6.

    & J. molec. Evol. 32, 310–315 (1991).

  7. 7.

    , & J. molec. Evol. 35, 181–183 (1992).

  8. 8.

    & Molec. Biol. Evol. (in the press).

  9. 9.

    Molec. Biol. Evol. 3, 322–329 (1986).

  10. 10.

    , , & Hum. Genet. 64, 156–159 (1983).

  11. 11.

    Q. Rev. Biophys. 33, 1–48 (1970).

  12. 12.

    & Molec. Biol. Evol. 1, 269–285 (1984).

  13. 13.

    et al. Nature 342, 708–711 (1989).

  14. 14.

    & Analyt. Biochem. 152, 232–238 (1986).

  15. 15.

    , & Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 74, 5463–5467 (1977).

  16. 16.

    , & Nucleic Acids Res. 14, 1319–1324 (1986).

  17. 17.

    , , & BioTechniques 9, 66–72 (1990).

  18. 18.

    & Computer Appl. Biosci. 5, 151–153 (1989).

Download references

Author information

Author notes

    • Wen-Hsiung Li

    To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Affiliations

  1. Center for Demographic and Population Genetics, University of Texas, PO Box 20334, Houston, Texas 77225, USA

    • Lawrence C. Shimmin
    • , Benny Hung-Junn Chang
    •  & Wen-Hsiung Li

Authors

  1. Search for Lawrence C. Shimmin in:

  2. Search for Benny Hung-Junn Chang in:

  3. Search for Wen-Hsiung Li in:

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/362745a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.