Scientists have discovered the first leukaemia protective gene that is specific to the male-only Y chromosome. Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge found that this Y-chromosome gene protects against the development of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and other cancers.
The study, published in Nature Genetics, investigated how loss of the X-chromosome gene UTX, which is known to be mutated in many tumours, hastens the development of AML. However, they found that UTY, a related gene on the Y chromosome, protected male mice lacking UTX from developing AML. The authors then show that in AML and in several other human cancers types, loss of UTX is accompanied by loss of UTY, confirming that the cancer-suppressing role of UTY extends beyond AML.
Acute myeloid leukaemia is an aggressive blood cancer that affects people of all ages. It develops in cells in the bone marrow and leads to life-threatening infections and bleeding. Mainstream AML treatments have remained unchanged for decades.
Women have two X chromosomes whereas men have one X and one Y chromosome. The X and Y chromosomes share many genes, but a small number of genes, including UTY, are only found on the Y chromosome. These Y-specific genes were
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