PSRs: Selfish chromosomes that manipulate reproductive development

Xinmi Zhang, Patrick M. Ferree,  Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology,  159-160:66-73. 2024.

B chromosomes are intriguing “selfish” genetic elements, many of which exhibit higher-than-Mendelian transmission. This perspective highlights a group of B chromosomes known as Paternal Sex Ratio chromosomes (PSRs), which are found in several insects with haplo-diploid reproduction. PSRs harshly alter the organism’s reproduction to facilitate their own inheritance. A manifestation of this effect is the conversion of female destined individuals into males. Key to this conversion is the mysterious ability of PSRs to cause elimination of the sperm-inherited half of the genome during zygote formation.

Here we discuss how PSRs were discovered, what is known about how they alter paternal chromatin dynamics to cause sex conversion, and how PSR-induced genome elimination is different from other forms of programmed genome elimination in different insects. PSRs also stand out because their DNA sequence compositions differ in remarkable ways from their insect’s essential chromosomes, a characteristic suggestive of interspecies origins. Broadly, we also highlight poorly understood aspects of PSR dynamics that need to be investigated.


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