We develop a quantitative genetic model to investigate the evolution of X-imprinting. The model compares two forces that select for X-imprinting: genomic conflict caused by polygamy and sex-specific selection. Genomic conflict can only explain small reductions in maternal X gene expression and cannot explain silencing of the maternal X. In contrast, sex-specific selection can cause extreme differences in gene expression, in either direction (lowered maternal or paternal gene expression), even to the point of gene silencing of either the maternal or paternal copy. These conclusions assume that the Y chromosome lacks genetic activity. The presence of an active Y homologue makes imprinting resemble the autosomal pattern, with active paternal alleles (X- and Y-linked) and silenced maternal alleles. This outcome is likely to be restricted as Y-linked alleles are subject to the accumulation of deleterious mutations. Experimental evidence concerning X-imprinting in mouse and human is interpreted in the light of these predictions and is shown to be far more easily explained by sex-specific selection.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - 2001|
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