Meiotic drive in house mice: mechanisms, consequences, and insights for human biology

U. P. Arora and B. L. Dumont,  Chromosome Research,  2022.

Meiotic drive occurs when one allele at a heterozygous site cheats its way into a disproportionate share of functional gametes, violating Mendel’s law of equal segregation. This genetic conflict typically imposes a fitness cost to individuals, often by disrupting the process of gametogenesis. The evolutionary impact of meiotic drive is substantial, and the phenomenon has been associated with infertility and reproductive isolation in a wide range of organisms. However, cases of meiotic drive in humans remain elusive, a finding that likely reflects the inherent challenges of detecting drive in our species rather than unique features of human genome biology. Here, we make the case that house mice (Mus musculus) present a powerful model system to investigate the mechanisms and consequences of meiotic drive and facilitate translational inferences about the scope and potential mechanisms of drive in humans. We first detail how different house mouse resources have been harnessed to identify cases of meiotic drive and the underlying mechanisms utilized to override Mendel’s rules of inheritance. We then summarize the current state of knowledge of meiotic drive in the mouse genome. We profile known mechanisms leading to transmission bias at several established drive elements. We discuss how a detailed understanding of meiotic drive in mice can steer the search for drive elements in our own species. Lastly, we conclude with a prospective look into how new technologies and molecular tools can help resolve lingering mysteries about the prevalence and mechanisms of selfish DNA transmission in mammals.

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