6.13 Sex-linked inheritance

Figure 6.18 Color blindness example. Can you read the number on this colorblindness test?

An example of a sex-linked trait is red-green colorblindness. The OPN1LW gene, which codes for a protein that allows humans to tell the difference between red and green, is located on the X chromosome. Without functional OPN1LW protein, a person will be red-green colorblind. In females, color blindness is a recessive trait because the possession of a single functional copy of OPN1LW is sufficient for normal

vision. Males, however, only have one copy of the X chromosome and thus only one OPN1LW gene. So, if there is a functional mutation on the OPN1LW gene of a male’s only X chromosome, he will be colorblind. There is no corresponding gene on the Y chromosome to compensate for this loss of function. This difference in sex chromosomes explains why red-green colorblindness is rare in females, since females need to inherit two mutated copies if they are to be red-green colorblind. However, females must be carriers of colorblindness in order to pass the trait on to any of their sons.

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  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishihara_test#/media/File:Ishihara_9.png

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The Evolution and Biology of Sex by Sehoya Cotner and Deena Wassenberg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.