RNA editing controls meiotic drive by a Neurospora Spore killer

N. A. Rhoades and T. M. Hammond,  bioRxiv,  2020.12.30.424869. 2021.

Neurospora Sk-2 is a complex meiotic drive element that is transmitted to offspring through sexual reproduction in a biased manner. Sk-2’s biased transmission mechanism involves spore killing, and recent evidence has demonstrated that spore killing is triggered by a gene called rfk-1. However, a second gene, rsk, is also critically important for meiotic drive by spore killing because it allows offspring with an Sk-2 genotype to survive the toxic effects of rfk-1. Here, we present evidence demonstrating that rfk-1 encodes two protein variants: a 102 amino acid RFK-1A and a 130 amino acid RFK-1B, but only RFK-1B is toxic. We also show that expression of RFK-1B requires an early stop codon in rfk-1 mRNA to undergo adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) mRNA editing. Finally, we demonstrate that RFK-1B is toxic when expressed within vegetative tissue of Spore killer sensitive (SkS) strains, and that this vegetative toxicity can be overcome by co-expressing Sk-2’s version of RSK. Overall, our results demonstrate that Sk-2 uses RNA editing to control when its spore killer is produced, and that the primary killing and resistance functions of Sk-2 can be conferred upon an SkS strain by the transfer of only two genes.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.

More related to this: