Apr 3, 2020

Gene-level, but not chromosome-wide, divergence between a very young house fly Y chromosome and its homologous X chromosome

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Jae Hak Son, R. P. Meisel

Abstract

X and Y chromosomes are derived from a pair of homologous autosomes, which then diverge from each other over time. Although Y-specific features have been characterized in sex chromosomes of various ages, the earliest stages of Y chromosome evolution are poorly understood. In particular, we do not know whether early stages of Y chromosome evolution consist of changes to individual genes or happen via chromosome-scale divergence from the X. To address this question, we used house fly, Musca domestica, as a model because it has very young sex chromosomes that are still segregating as polymorphisms within natural populations. To identify early differentiation between the very young X and Y chromosomes, we compared genotypic (XY) and sex-reversed (XX) males in gene sequence and gene expression using RNA-seq and Oxford Nanopore sequencing data. There is an excess of genes with divergent expression between the X and Y copies, but the number of genes is small. This suggests that individual Y genes, but not the entire Y chromosome, have diverged from their homologous X-linked alleles. We identified one gene, encoding an axonemal dynein assembly factor (which functions in sperm motility), that has higher expression in the abdomens of XY ...Continue Reading

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