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White campion (Silene latifolia) is one of the few examples of plants with separate sexes and with X and Y sex chromosomes. The presence or absence of the Y chromosome determines which type of reproductive organs--male or female--will develop. Recently, we characterized the first active gene located on a plant Y chromosome, SlY1, and its X-linked homolog, SlX1. These genes encode WD-repeat proteins likely to be involved in cell proliferation. Here, we report the characterization of a novel Y-linked gene, SlY4, which also has a homolog on the X chromosome, SlX4. Both SlY4 and SlX4 potentially encode fructose-2,6-bisphosphatases. A comparative molecular analysis of the two sex-linked loci (SlY1/SlX1 and SlY4/SlX4) suggests selective constraint on both X- and Y-linked genes and thus that both X- and Y-linked copies are functional. Divergence between SlY4 and SlX4 is much greater than that between the SlY1 and SlX1 genes. These results suggest that, as for human XY-linked genes, the sex-linked plant loci ceased recombining at different times and reveal distinct events in the evolutionary history of the sex chromosomes.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Biol Evol

Publication Date





2162 - 2168


Chromosomes, Evolution, Molecular, Gene Library, Genes, Plant, Humans, Molecular Sequence Data, Plant Proteins, Plant Structures, Silene