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Open Access Research article

An evolutionary consequence of dosage compensation on Drosophila melanogaster female X-chromatin structure?

Yu Zhang and Brian Oliver

Author Affiliations

Laboratory of Cellular and Developmental Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD 20892-8028 USA

BMC Genomics 2010, 11:6  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-6

Published: 5 January 2010

Abstract

Background

X chromosomes are subject to dosage compensation in Drosophila males. Dosage compensation requires cis sequence features of the X chromosome that are present in both sexes by definition and trans acting factors that target chromatin modifying machinery to the X specifically in males. The evolution of this system could result in neutral X chromatin changes that will be apparent in females.

Results

We find that the general chromatin structure of female X chromosomes is distinct from autosomes. Additionally, specific histone marks associated with dosage compensation and active chromatin marks on the male X chromosome are also enriched on the X chromosomes of females, albeit to a lesser degree.

Conclusions

Our data indicate that X chromatin structure is fundamentally different from autosome structure in both sexes. We suggest that the differences between the X chromosomes and autosomes in females are a consequence of mechanisms that have evolved to ensure sufficient X chromosome expression in the soma of males.