Elimination of Y chromosome-bearing spermatids during spermiogenesis in an autosomal sex-ratio mutant of Drosophila simulans

Yasuno, YI, Y. H.; Yamamoto, M. T.,  Genes & Genetic Systems,  88:113-126. 2013.

Sex ratio distortion, which is commonly abbreviated as sex-ratio, has been studied in many Drosophila species, but the mechanism remains largely unknown. Here, we report on the sex-ratio mutant of D. simulans named excess of females (exf). The third chromosomal recessive mutation results in a sex ratio of approximately 0.2 or less (males/total). Cytological observation demonstrated that meiosis appeared to be completed normally, but that most Y chromosome-bearing nuclei failed to elongate during spermiogenesis, as revealed by fluorescence in situ hybridization using sex chromosome-specific probes. These aberrant nuclei contained membranous inclusions as revealed by electron microscopic analysis. Most of the aberrant exf spermatids failed to individualize and mature, suggesting that a later stage of spermiogenesis is involved in prevention of production of sperm with abnormal morphology. On the one hand, in exf seminal vesicles, sperm nuclei with a length of 5-8.5 mu m were occasionally observed, in addition to those with wild-type sperm dimensions, that is, a length of approximately 10 mu m. Thus, spermatids with less severe nuclear defects can escape elimination and be released into the seminal vesicles as mature sperm. Furthermore, we constructed His2AvD-GFP and ProtamineB-eGFP transgenic lines in D. simulans, and examined the processes involved in replacement of chromatin proteins over a time course, according to nuclear morphology. We found that both normal and abnormal sperm heads demonstrated equal chromatin replacement during late spermiogenesis. Our results suggest that exf belongs to a unique class of meiotic drive systems in that (1) intranuclear membranous inclusions cause failure of nuclear shaping of Y-bearing spermatids without affecting the histone-protamine transition, and (2) a portion of the aberrant spermatids differentiate into mature sperm; these are transferred to and stored by females.