The human Y chromosome is intriguing not only because it harbours the master-switch gene that determines gender but also because of its unusual evolutionary history. The Y chromosome evolved from an autosome, and its evolution has been characterized by massive gene decay. Recent whole-genome and transcriptome analyses of Y chromosomes in humans and other primates, in Drosophila species and in plants have shed light on the current gene content of the Y chromosome, its origins and its long-term fate. Furthermore, comparative analysis of young and old Y chromosomes has given further insights into the evolutionary and molecular forces triggering Y-chromosome degeneration and into the evolutionary destiny of the Y chromosome.
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