Research ArticleGENETICS

Genome elimination mediated by gene expression from a selfish chromosome

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Science Advances  03 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 14, eaaz9808
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz9808


Numerous plants and animals harbor selfish B chromosomes that “drive” or transmit themselves at super-Mendelian frequencies, despite long-term fitness costs to the organism. Currently, it is unknown how B chromosome drive is mediated, and whether B-gene expression plays a role. We used modern sequencing technologies to analyze the fine-scale sequence composition and expression of paternal sex ratio (PSR), a B chromosome in the jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis. PSR causes female-to-male conversion by destroying the sperm’s hereditary material in young embryos to drive. Using RNA interference, we demonstrate that testis-specific expression of a PSR-linked gene, named haploidizer, facilitates this genome elimination–and–sex conversion effect. haploidizer encodes a putative protein with a DNA binding domain, suggesting a functional link with the sperm-derived chromatin.

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