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Junk DNA in Y chromosomes is not junk anymore: CCMB study

Published: 17th Sep 2021 4:31 pm

Hyderabad: The junk DNA in Y chromosome, which many researchers believed did not have any functions, is not a junk anymore!

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Recent studies by a team of geneticists from city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has indicated ‘striking novel regulatory functions of Y chromosome DNA’.

The studies on Y chromosome of mouse, led by Prof. Rachel Jesudasan and others from CCMB, said that ‘they have given rise to a class of small RNAs called piRNAs and this is the first report of piRNAs from Y chromosomes,” CCMB in a statement said.

The CCMB researchers in their study, published recently in the well-known open access journal BMC Biology, have said that the ‘junk’ DNA in the Y chromosomes of mouse does play an important role.

“Our earlier studies on human Y chromosome had shown sex and species-specific repeats on the Y chromosome regulate a reproductively important protein-coding RNA transcribed from chromosome number 1. Along with this study, these are the first reports of interaction between the Y chromosome and other chromosomes. Thus, consolidating the two studies, we see a more pervasive regulation of genes associated with reproduction by Y chromosome”, says Prof Jesudasan.

The Y chromosome is a male determining chromosome and it’s smaller in comparison to the X, its partner. The Y chromosome was not known to have any function except sex determination. The DNA sequences on Y chromosomes are by and large present in multiple copies (repeats) and were earlier thought to function just as packing material for the few protein coding genes on Y chromosome. Given no obvious function, most part of DNA of Y chromosome was considered junk, CCMB said.

Dr Rachel, who is also advisor (research) at Department Genetics, Osmania University said that “As species evolve, these repeats also co-evolve and gradually are no longer able to regulate reproduction of the species. Thus, it appears that these repeats are at the fulcrum of species identity and evolution”, she added.

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