The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said today that researchers have sequenced the human X chromosome, and applauded preliminary analyses of the sequence that says will provide new insights into the biological differences between males and females.
A detailed analysis of the X chromosome's DNA sequence and a survey of its gene activity, are published in the current issue of Nature, NIH said. The NIH has already published similar analyses for chromosomes 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22 and Y.
Some of the interesting findings? For starters the X chromosome has one of the lowest gene densities known to researchers. Researchers also said that 10 percent of the genes are part of a family of "cancer-testis antigens" that are normally expressed in the testis but also in some cancers. NIH said that these genes could be possible targets for immunotherapy.
NIH pointed out that the X chromosome can be tied to some 300 diseases, including 10 percent of inherited diseases, including hemophilia, forms of mental retardation, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
"From studying such genes, we can get remarkable insight into disease processes," said Mark Ross, the project leader from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, one of six institutions and corporations that did the sequencing work.
The sequence of the X chromosome, as well as the rest of the human genome sequence, can be accessed through the GenBank database available from NIH's