XY and ZW: Is Meiotic Sex Chromosome Inactivation the Rule in Evolution?

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
PLoS Genetics (Impact Factor: 8.17). 06/2009; 5(5):e1000493. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000493
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Male-biased genes-those expressed at higher levels in males than in females-are underrepresented on the X chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster. Several evolutionary models have been posited to explain this so-called demasculinization of the X. Here, we show that the apparent paucity of male-biased genes on the X chromosome is attributable to global X-autosome differences in expression in Drosophila testes, owing to a lack of sex chromosome dosage compensation in the male germline, but not to any difference in the density of testis-specific or testis-biased genes on the X chromosome. First, using genome-wide gene expression data from 20 tissues, we find no evidence that genes with testis-specific expression are underrepresented on the X chromosome. Second, using contrasts in gene expression profiles among pairs of tissues, we recover a statistical underrepresentation of testis-biased genes on the X but find that the pattern largely disappears once we account for the lack of dosage compensation in the Drosophila male germline. Third, we find that computationally "demasculinizing" the autosomes is not sufficient to produce an expression profile similar to that of the X chromosome in the testes. Our findings thus show that the lack of sex chromosome dosage compensation in Drosophila testes can explain the apparent signal of demasculinization on the X, whereas evolutionary demasculinization of the X cannot explain its overall reduced expression in the testes.
    Genome Biology and Evolution 09/2012; 4(10):895-904. DOI:10.1093/gbe/evs077 · 4.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies on organisms with well-differentiated X and Y chromosomes, such as Drosophila and mammals, consistently detected an excess of genes moving out of the X chromosome and gaining testis-biased expression. Several selective evolutionary mechanisms were shown to be associated with this nonrandom gene traffic, which contributed to the evolution of the X chromosome and autosomes. If selection drives gene traffic, such traffic should also exist in species with Z and W chromosomes, where the females are the heterogametic sex. However, no previous studies on gene traffic in species with female heterogamety have found any nonrandom chromosomal gene movement. Here, we report an excess of retrogenes moving out of the Z chromosome in an organism with the ZW sex determination system, Bombyx mori. In addition, we showed that those "out of Z" retrogenes tended to have ovary-biased expression, which is consistent with the pattern of non-retrogene traffic recently reported in birds and symmetrical to the retrogene movement in mammals and fruit flies out of the X chromosome evolving testis functions. These properties of gene traffic in the ZW system suggest a general role for the heterogamety of sex chromosomes in determining the chromosomal locations and the evolution of sex-biased genes.
    Journal of Molecular Evolution 04/2012; 74(3-4):113-26. DOI:10.1007/s00239-012-9499-y · 1.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: X-chromosome inactivation is an epigenetic hallmark of mammalian development. Chromosome-wide regulation of the X-chromosome is essential in embryonic and germ cell development. In the male germline, the X-chromosome goes through meiotic sex chromosome inactivation, and the chromosome-wide silencing is maintained from meiosis into spermatids before the transmission to female embryos. In early female mouse embryos, X-inactivation is imprinted to occur on the paternal X-chromosome, representing the epigenetic programs acquired in both parental germlines. Recent advances revealed that the inactive X-chromosome in both females and males can be dissected into two elements: repeat elements versus unique coding genes. The inactive paternal X in female preimplantation embryos is reactivated in the inner cell mass of blastocysts in order to subsequently allow the random form of X-inactivation in the female embryo, by which both Xs have an equal chance of being inactivated. X-chromosome reactivation is regulated by pluripotency factors and also occurs in early female germ cells and in pluripotent stem cells, where X-reactivation is a stringent marker of naive ground state pluripotency. Here we summarize recent progress in the study of X-inactivation and X-reactivation during mammalian reproduction and development as well as in pluripotent stem cells.
    Human Genetics 06/2011; 130(2):265-80. DOI:10.1007/s00439-011-1024-7 · 4.52 Impact Factor

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