The Y Chromosome. Some feel it is endangered. Why?
The male has been differentiated from the female in non-biological ways throughout human history. Privileges and responsibilities, such as royalty and headship, pass down the line of male descendants. In a grossly distorted way, this follows the Bible arrangement of headship, penned at 1 Corinthians 11:3.
As will be seen in the discussion to follow, the distinguishing biological difference between male and female is the y chromosome. This chromosome seems to be in danger. What are the sources of this danger? What does it imply?
Humans and Heredity
Every human organism, though similar in its most important characteristics, displays differentiating family and individual traits. The information “portfolio” of an individual lies in certain macromolecules called DNA. These macromolecules are contained in tiny structures called genes, which are themselves contained in 23 pairs of heredity bearing units, the chromosomes.
What Determines Sexuality?
Most of the chromosomes—in fact 22 of the 23 pairs—are found in the male and the female alike, and are termed “autosomes.” The remaining, lone pair are sex chromosomes. In the female, the pair consists of two similar but not identical chromosomes. These are called x chromosomes due to their distinctive shape.
In the male, the sex chromosomes includes only one x chromosome. The other, different in appearance, is the y chromosome. Since the male can offer either an x or a y chromosome, whereas the female can provide only an x chromosome, it is the male who determines the gender of a child.
The Bible indicates the earliest form of genetic damage occurred as a result of human sin in the Garden of Eden. That genetic damage can and has occurred is valid, and should be recognized. Experiments involving radiation have demonstrated the fact, as the Department of Energy acknowledges. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) delineates dozens of genetic birth defects.
One of the known dangers is smoking, which is discussed in an article, referenced below, for the Cleveland Clinic Center for Reproductive Medicine. Another danger, mentioned in that same article, is assisted reproductive techniques (ART). In fact, there are many genetic endangerments. Some of these dangers come from exposure to certain chemicals that alter DNA—mutagens. Does the y chromosome possess no internal protection from outside influences?
Y Chromosome Repair Mechanisms
Since females have two x chromosomes, weaknesses in the one chromosome can be compensated for by the second chromosome. Such is not the case for the single y chromosome. As a result, all might look like doom and gloom for the y chromosome.
Wonderfully, however, the y chromosome possesses a mechanism that ensures errors are overcome. Dr. David C. Page, Director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, indicates the y chromosome serves as a “palindrome” of itself. It contains a mirror image of its information within itself. Damage sustained by the chromosome can be fixed by the chromosome itself!
- Human Genome Project Information
- How Does Radiation Affect Humans?
- Genetics/Birth Defects
- Sperm DNA damage and its clinical relevance in assessing reproductive outcome
- David C. Page, MD