It has long been known that viral infections can be more severe in males than females, but the question as to why has remained a mystery – until possibly now. The key may lie in an epigenetic regulator that boosts the activity of specialized anti-viral immune cells known as natural killer (NK) cells. In a study published March 16, 2023 in Nature Immunology, a collaborative team of UCLA researchers has found that female mouse and human NK cells have an extra copy of an X chromosome-linked gene called UTX. UTX acts as an epigenetic regulator to boost NK cell anti-viral function, while repressing NK cell numbers.
Extra X Chromosome-Linked Gene May Explain Decreased Viral Infection Severity in Females
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