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Monday, March 21, 2005
 
Women more complex than we'd thought

Latest research into the X chromosome brings startling discoveries

ROBERT LEE HOTZ
Saturday 19 March 2005

SCIENTISTS have found genetic evidence for what some men have long suspected: it is dangerous to make assumptions about women.

The key is the X chromosome, the "female" sex chromosome that all men and women have in common. In a study published this week in the journal Nature, scientists said they had found an unexpectedly large genetic variation in the way parts of women’s two X chromosomes are distributed among them. The findings were published in conjunction with the first comprehensive decoding of the chromosome.

Females can differ from each other almost as much as they do from males in the way many genes at the heart of sexual identity behave, researchers say. "Literally every one of the females we looked at had a different genetic story," says Duke University genetics expert Huntington Willard, who co-wrote the study. "It is not just a little bit of variation."

The analysis also found that the obsessively debated differences between men and women were, at least on the genetic level, even greater than previously thought. As many as 300 of the genes on the X chromosomes may be activated differently in women than in men, says the other author of the paper, Laura Carrel, molecular biologist at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

From: The Scotsman

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