Homosexuality via canalized sexual development: A testing protocol for a new epigenetic model

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Abstract

We recently synthesized and reinterpreted published studies to advance an epigenetic model for the development of homosexuality (HS). The model is based on epigenetic marks laid down in response to the XX vs. XY karyotype in embryonic stem cells. These marks boost sensitivity to testosterone in XY fetuses and lower it in XX fetuses, thereby canalizing sexual development. Our model predicts that a subset of these canalizing epigenetic marks stochastically carry over across generations and lead to mosaicism for sexual development in opposite-sex offspring – the homosexual phenotype being one such outcome. Here, we begin by outlining why HS has been under-appreciated as a commonplace phenomenon in nature, and how this trend is currently being reversed in the field of neurobiology. We next briefly describe our epigenetic model of HS, develop a set of predictions, and describe how epigenetic profiles of human stem cells can provide for a strong test of the model.

We recently advanced a new biological model of homosexuality that is based on transgenerational inheritance of sex-specific epigenetic marks from a parent to an offspring of opposite sex. Here, we describe a general framework to test the model using human stem cells from adult hetero- and homosexual individuals.

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