Mitotic exchange in female germline stem cells is the major source of Sex Ratio chromosome recombination in Drosophila pseudoobscura

S. Koury,  bioRxiv,  2022.06.07.495109. 2022.

Sex Ratio chromosomes in Drosophila pseudoobscura are selfish X chromosome variants associated with three non-overlapping inversions. In the male germline, Sex Ratio chromosomes distort segregation of X and Y chromosomes (99:1), thereby skewing progeny sex ratio. In the female germline, segregation of Sex Ratio chromosomes is mendelian (50:50), but non-overlapping inversions strongly suppress recombination establishing a 26 Megabase haplotype (constituting ~20% of the haploid genome). Rare crossover events located between non-overlapping inversions can disrupt this haplotype, and recombinants have sometimes been found in natural populations. We recently reported on the first lab-generated Sex Ratio recombinants occurring at a rate of 0.0012 crossovers per female meiosis. An improved experimental design presented here reveals these recombination events were 6.5-fold more frequent than previously estimated. Furthermore, recombination events were strongly clustered, indicating the majority arose from mitotic exchange in female germline stem cells and not from meiotic crossing-over in primary oocytes. Finally, recombination-induced viability defects consistent with unequal exchange caused asymmetric recovery rates of complementary recombinant classes. Incorporating these experimental results into population models for Sex Ratio chromosome evolution provided a substantially better fit to natural population frequencies and allowed maintenance of the highly differentiated 26 Megabase Sex Ratio haplotype without invoking strong epistatic selection. This study provides the first estimate of spontaneous mitotic exchange for naturally-occurring chromosomes in Drosophila female germline stem cells, reveals a much higher Sex Ratio chromosome recombination rate, and develops a mathematical model that accurately predicts the rarity of recombinant Sex Ratio chromosomes in natural populations.

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