Expression Evolution of Ancestral XY Gametologs across All Major Groups of Placental Mammals

Mónica Martínez-Pacheco, Mariela Tenorio, Laura Almonte, Vicente Fajardo, Alan Godínez, Diego Fernández, Paola Cornejo-Páramo, Karina Díaz-Barba, Jean Halbert, Angelica Liechti, Tamas Székely, Araxi O. Urrutia, Diego Cortez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)


Placental mammals present 180 million-year-old Y chromosomes that have retained a handful of dosage-sensitive genes. However, the expression evolution of Y-linked genes across placental groups has remained largely unexplored. Here, we expanded the number of Y gametolog sequences by analyzing ten additional species from previously unexplored groups. We detected seven remarkably conserved genes across 25 placental species with known Y repertoires. We then used RNA-seq data from 17 placental mammals to unveil the expression evolution of XY gametologs. We found that Y gametologs followed, on average, a 3-fold expression loss and that X gametologs also experienced some expression reduction, particularly in primates. Y gametologs gained testis specificity through an accelerated expression decay in somatic tissues. Moreover, despite the substantial expression decay of Y genes, the combined expression of XY gametologs in males is higher than that of both X gametologs in females. Finally, our work describes several features of the Y chromosome in the last common mammalian ancestor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2015-2028
Number of pages14
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Issue number11
Early online date13 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2020


  • dosage compensation mechanisms
  • gene expression levels
  • placental mammals
  • sex chromosomes
  • Y chromosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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