An international collaboration led by Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute will publish on Thursday (March 17) an almost complete sequence of the human X chromosome that offers, among many new insights, a better picture of how sex chromosomes evolved. A second paper in the same issue reveals some surprises about X inactivation of genes.

The Sanger Institute's Mark Ross and colleagues in the United States and Germany determined 99.3% of the chromosome's euchromatic sequence and found 1098 genes, including 399 "new" genes and 99 cancer-testis antigen genes.

But more than simply improving our understanding of individual genes, the sequence offers a powerful insight into the evolution of the chromosome itself, Ross told reporters at a press conference in London. "We can see the way evolution has shaped the chromosomes that determine our gender to give them their unique properties," he said. "The X chromosome is definitely the most extraordinary in...

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