Methods of transcriptional profiling have made it possible to compare gene expression between females and males on a genome-wide scale. Such studies have revealed that sex-biased gene expression is abundant in many species, although its extent may vary greatly among tissues or developmental stages. In species with genetic sex determination, sex chromosome–specific processes, such as dosage compensation, also may influence sex-biased gene expression. Sex-biased genes, especially those with male-biased expression, often show elevated rates of both protein sequence and gene expression divergence between species, which could have a number of causes, including sexual selection, sexual antagonism, and relaxed selective constraint. Here, we review our current knowledge of sex-biased gene expression in both model and nonmodel organisms, as well as the biological and technical factors that should be considered when analyzing sex-biased expression. We also discuss current approaches to uncover the evolutionary forces that govern the evolution of sex-biased genes.


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