Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genetic Basis For Gender Differences In The Liver

Date:
October 17, 2003
Source:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary:
Scientists at the University of Michigan Medical School have identified two genes responsible for an important, yet often overlooked difference between the sexes. One of the less evident physiological differences between males and females resides in the liver.

Scientists at the University of Michigan Medical School have identified two genes responsible for an important, yet often overlooked difference between the sexes.

One of the less evident physiological differences between males and females resides in the liver. Male and female livers express different subsets of genes, which affect the organ's ability to metabolize certain drugs and hormones. This in turn impacts numerous processes, such as reproduction. While the sexual dimorphism of the liver has been recognized for several decades, scientists are only recently beginning to uncover the genes involved.

In the November 1 issue of Genes & Development, Dr. Diane Robins and colleagues report on their discovery of two neighboring genes, Rsl1 and Rsl2, that repress male-specific liver gene expression in female mice. They found that female mice harboring mutations in Rsl genes aberrantly turn on male-specific liver genes, causing the female livers to adopt characteristically male patterns of gene expression.

According to Dr. Christopher Krebs, first author of the study, "Using genetic tools, we set out to clone Rsl because of its role in establishing gender differences in liver function, particularly in drug metabolism. Instead of just one gene, we discovered a huge cluster of related genes. To our surprise, it takes a pair of these genes to restore normal liver gene expression to mutant mice."

Interestingly, the researchers note that the Rsl genes appear to function through a division of labor, with each regulating a subset of male-specific genes. While these genes appear to share the control of normal hepatic gene expression, under some circumstances one may be able to compensate for defects in the other.

Dr. Robins and colleagues determined that Rsl1 and Rsl2 belong to a large family of structurally related genes, called the KRAB-ZFP gene family, with over 200 members in the mouse and human genomes. Although biochemical work has suggested a role for KRAB-ZFPs in gene silencing, this current study provides the first functional role for any KRAB-ZFP in vivo.

Dr. Robins suggests that these genes may be most interesting from an evolutionary perspective. "This gene family has arisen recently in evolution, and diversified rapidly, but the way they act is highly conserved. Since Rsl regulates genes at puberty that are involved in reproduction and hormone metabolism, it may be that not only Rsl, but also other members of the KRAB-ZFP family, influence functions that lead to speciation."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Genetic Basis For Gender Differences In The Liver." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 October 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031017072805.htm>.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2003, October 17). Genetic Basis For Gender Differences In The Liver. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031017072805.htm
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Genetic Basis For Gender Differences In The Liver." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031017072805.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins