Estimation of male-to-female ratios of mutation rate in primates and rodents

Hung-Junn Chang, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Haldane (1935) developed a method for estimating the male-to-female ratio of mutation rate ($\alpha$) by using sex-linked recessive genetic disease, but in six different studies using hemophilia A data the estimates of $\alpha$ varied from 1.2 to 29.3. Direct genomic sequencing is a better approach, but it is laborious and not readily applicable to non-human organisms. To study the sex ratios of mutation rate in various mammals, I used an indirect method proposed by Miyata et al. (1987). This method takes advantage of the fact that different chromosomes segregate differently between males and females, and uses the ratios of mutation rate in sequences on different chromosomes to estimate the male-to-female ratio of mutation rate. I sequenced the last intron of ZFX and ZFY genes in 6 species of primates and 2 species of rodents; I also sequenced the partial genomic sequence of the Ube1x and Ube1y genes of mice and rats. The purposes of my study in addition to estimation of $\alpha$'s in different mammalian species, are to test the hypothesis that most mutations are replication dependent and to examine the generation-time effect on $\alpha$. The $\alpha$ value estimated from the ZFX and ZFY introns of the six primate specise is ${\sim}$6. This estimate is the same as an earlier estimate using only 4 species of primates, but the 95% confidence interval has been reduced from (2, 84) to (2, 33). The estimate of $\alpha$ in the rodents obtained from Zfx and Zfy introns is ${\sim}$1.9, and that deriving from Ube1x and Ube1y introns is ${\sim}$2. Both estimates have a 95% confidence interval from 1 to 3. These two estimates are very close to each other, but are only one-third of that of the primates, suggesting a generation-time effect on $\alpha$. An $\alpha$ of 6 in primates and 2 in rodents are close to the estimates of the male-to-female ratio of the number of germ-cell divisions per generation in humans and mice, which are 6 and 2, respectively, assuming the generation time in humans is 20 years and that in mice is 5 months. These findings suggest that errors during germ-cell DNA replication are the primary source of mutation and that $\alpha$ decreases with decreasing length of generation time.

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Recommended Citation

Chang, Hung-Junn, "Estimation of male-to-female ratios of mutation rate in primates and rodents" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9535036.