Repeated co-option of HMG-box genes for sex determination in brown algae and animals

Rémy Luthringer, Morgane Raphalen, Carla Guerra, Sébastien Colin, Claudia Martinho, Min Zheng, Masakazu Hoshino, Yacine Badis, Agnieszka P. Lipinska, Fabian B. Haas, Josué Barrera-Redondo, Vikram Alva, Susana M. Coelho (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In many eukaryotes, genetic sex determination is not governed by XX/XY or ZW/ZZ systems but by a specialized region on the poorly studied U (female) or V (male) sex chromosomes. Previous studies have hinted at the existence of a dominant male-sex factor on the V chromosome in brown algae, a group of multicellular eukaryotes distantly related to animals and plants. The nature of this factor has remained elusive. Here, we demonstrate that an HMG-box gene acts as the male-determining factor in brown algae, mirroring the role HMG-box genes play in sex determination in animals. Over a billion-year evolutionary timeline, these lineages have independently co-opted the HMG box for male determination, representing a paradigm for evolution’s ability to recurrently use the same genetic “toolkit” to accomplish similar tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number eadk5466
Number of pages13
Issue number6689
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2024


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