Dosage Compensation of the X Chromosomes in Bovine Germline, Early Embryos, and Somatic Tissues

Jingyue (Ellie) Duan, Wei Shi, Nathaniel K. Jue, Zongliang Jiang, Lynn Kuo, Rachel O’Neill, Eckhard Wolf, Hong Dong, Xinbao Zheng, Xiuchun (Cindy) Tian

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Dosage compensation of the mammalian X chromosome (X) was proposed by Susumu Ohno as a mechanism wherein the inactivation of one X in females would lead to doubling the expression of the other. This would resolve the dosage imbalance between eutherian females (XX) versus male (XY) and between a single active X versus autosome pairs (A). Expression ratio of X- and A-linked genes has been relatively well studied in humans and mice, despite controversial results over the existence of upregulation of X-linked genes. Here we report the first comprehensive test of Ohno’s hypothesis in bovine preattachment embryos, germline, and somatic tissues. Overall an incomplete dosage compensation (0.5 < X:A < 1) of expressed genes and an excess X dosage compensation (X:A > 1) of ubiquitously expressed “dosage-sensitive” genes were seen. No significant differences in X:A ratios were observed between bovine female and male somatic tissues, further supporting Ohno’s hypothesis. Interestingly, preimplantation embryos manifested a unique pattern of X dosage compensation dynamics. Specifically, X dosage decreased after fertilization, indicating that the sperm brings in an inactive X to the matured oocyte. Subsequently, the activation of the bovine embryonic genome enhanced expression of X-linked genes and increased the X dosage. As a result, an excess compensation was exhibited from the 8-cell stage to the compact morula stage. The X dosage peaked at the 16-cell stage and stabilized after the blastocyst stage. Together, our findings confirm Ohno’s hypothesis of X dosage compensation in the bovine and extend it by showing incomplete and over-compensation for expressed and “dosage-sensitive” genes, respectively.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
StatePublished - Dec 19 2018


  • Ohno’s hypothesis
  • X dosage compensation
  • preattachment embryos
  • bovine

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