A new study found that the Y chromosome is not only responsible for the male gender; it also plays a vital role in male survival.
Researchers from Washington University and Baylor College of Medicine analyzed the genetic makeup of the Y chromosome for the probe. They discovered that this small set of genes is linked together to decrease disease susceptibility and severity.
"This paper tells us that not only is the Y chromosome here to stay, but that we need to take it seriously, and not just in the reproductive tract," Whitehead Institute Director David Page said in a press release.
Page explained that the Y chromosome carries a few number of genes that are manifested by several tissues and organs of the body. The genes play a role in interpreting the male genome and are responsible for the basic survival skills developed by men.
The researchers compared the Y chromosome of the rhesus monkey, a chimpanzee, and a relative of human beings. They discovered that the Y chromosome let go of one ancestral gene after 25 million years. After comparing the first set of Y chromosomes, the team sought to juxtapose the Y chromosome from a more diverse set - a mouse, rat, opossum, bull and a marmoset. The results were consistent for these animals.
"Evolution is telling us these genes are really important for survival," research scientist for Page's lab Winston Bellott, said in a press release. "They've been selected and purified over time."
The team plans to continue their research on the specific tasks performed by the small set of Y genes. For now, they believe that they can prove that the XX cells and the XY cells in males are fundamentally similar; however, they manifest their differences in functions and physical appearance.
This study was published in the April 23 issue of Nature.