Transgender Conundrum: Massive Genetic Differences Between Men and Women Uncovered in Recent Study

Men and women differ in obvious and less obvious ways – for example, in the prevalence of certain diseases or reactions to drugs. How are these connected to one’s sex? Weizmann Institute of Science researchers recently uncovered thousands of human genes that are expressed – copied out to make proteins – differently in the two sexes. Their findings showed that harmful mutations in these particular genes tend to accumulate in the population in relatively high frequencies, and the study explains why. . .

[The scientists] looked closely at around 20,000 protein-coding genes, sorting them by sex and searching for differences in expression in each tissue. They eventually identified around 6,500 genes with activity that was biased toward one sex or the other in at least one tissue. For example, they found genes that were highly expressed in the skin of men relative to that in women’s skin, and they realized that these were related to the growth of body hair. Gene expression for muscle building was higher in men; that for fat storage was higher in women. . .

Less obvious locations included genes that were found to be expressed only in the left ventricle of the heart in women. One of these genes, which is also related to calcium uptake, showed very high expression levels in younger women that sharply decreased with age; the scientists think that they are active in women up to menopause, protecting their hearts, but leading to heart disease and osteoporosis in later years when the gene expression is shut down. Yet another gene that was mainly expressed in women was active in the brain, and though its exact function is unknown, the scientists think it may protect the neurons from Parkinson’s – a disease that has a higher prevalence and earlier onset in men. The researchers also identified gene expression in the liver in women that regulates drug metabolism, providing molecular evidence for the known difference in drug processing between women and men. (Read more from “Transgender Conundrum: Massive Genetic Differences Between Men and Women Uncovered in Recent Study” HERE)

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