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 July 28, 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 July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

West Africa Gripped by Deadly Ebola Outbreak

AFP (July 28, 2014) The worst-ever outbreak of the deadly Ebola epidemic grips west Africa, killing hundreds. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Google's Next Frontier: The Human Body

Newsy (July 27, 2014) Google is collecting genetic and molecular information to paint a picture of the perfectly healthy human. 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