Professor Kenneth Walsh, PhD, in the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, provided commentary to CNN on the report of the first full DNA sequence analysis of the Y chromosome. Due to its complex structure, new technological advances were required to decipher the DNA structure of the male “sex chromosome.” Females typically have two X chromosomes, whereas males typically have a single X chromosome and a single Y chromosome. In this interview Dr. Walsh discussed that men can lose a fraction of their Y chromosomes. The loss of the Y chromosome occurs with age, and it is the most prevalent acquired mutation in the population occurring in approximately 40% of males by age 70. Work in Dr. Walsh’s lab and other labs have documented that the loss of the Y chromosome can contribute to age-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, and this can account for over half of the six year difference in lifespans between males and females. He explained that having a better understanding of the Y chromosome will provide a roadmap for identifying the specific genetic regions that are involved in these disease processes.
Learn more about Dr. Walsh’s research.