Differences in the expression of a particular gene could explain why men with skin cancer tend to have a lower survival rate than women.

The gene, PPP2R3B, is expressed from both X chromosomes in women and from the X and Y chromosomes in men. Alan Spatz at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and his colleagues studied tissue samples from people with melanoma, and found that greater expression of PPP2R3B correlated with longer survival times. In cultured cells, high levels of PPP2R3B expression slowed melanoma growth by interfering with DNA replication and slowing cell division.

Expression of the gene was higher in women than men, which could explain why women with melanoma have better clinical outcomes, the authors say.

Sci. Transl. Med. 8, 369ra177 (2016)