St. Louis Public Radio News
2:48 pm
Wed June 18, 2003

Y Chromosome Uses Trick to Repair its Own Genes

St. Louis, Mo. – New findings out of Washington University in St. Louis could lead to better information about the causes of male infertility.

Working with scientists in Massachusetts, the St. Louis team discovered that the male Y chromosome contains many duplicate genes that control sperm production.

Dr. Rick Wilson directs Washington University's Genome Sequencing Center. He says the findings disprove a theory that suggested the Y chromosome is slowly degrading, leading to the eventual extinction of human males.

"The Y chromosome has become very specialized; it has evolved new mechanisms to protect its genes against further degradation or mutation we guys are going to be around for a long time," Wilson said.

The findings are published in the June 19 issue of the scientific journal Nature.