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Re: NYTimes article: women more genetically complex ...

On Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 02:02:23PM -0700, Monique Y. Mudama wrote:
> I thought this article might be of interest to the group.  The article is
> rather flip, but beneath the surface I think I see some content.
> http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/20/opinion/20dowd.html?ex=1112072400&en=898d3ff11f9b96a1&ei=5070

Ugh... NYT op ed piece on a real science article. This is the sort of
thing scientists hate :-)

I just read the Nature paper that the article is based on. It's some
pretty cool work, although it only talks about things at a very large
level and not at a functional level that describes what the genes are
actually doing.

Many of you probably know that in women, one of the two X chromosomes is
inactivated. This paper measures how much that inactivation really occurs
by looking at whole chromosome expression of individual genes located
on the X chromosome. They find that the inactivation isn't complete,
and that 15% of the X chromosome genes aren't inactivated at all, and
another 10% are inactivated in some chromosomes but not in others.

What's new about this is that we've never known just how many genes
on the X chromosome are actually silenced. I was taught that the whole
chromosome is silenced, and this was only three years ago.

However, some caveats have to be mentioned. #1 is that more genes and more
gene expression doesn't necessarily make you more complex. A commonly
used worm in biology studies has more chromosomes and more genes than a
fruitfly, and there are a number of plants with more genes than you or
I. #2 is that there are a number of genes present on the Y chromosome
which females simply don't carry at all.

I'm not even going to begin to touch the NYT article directly, as it
makes my stomache churn. The findings have interesting implications for
sexual dimorphisms, and perhaps more importantly differences between
individuals. In no way though, does this imply that women are genetically
superior to men. I give the NYT article a big "Troll" rating.

 - David Nusinow

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