Sex-chromosome meiotic drive in Drosophila melanogaster males

McKee, B,  Genetics,  106:403-422. 1984.

In Drosophila melanogaster males, deficiency for X heterochromatin causes high X-Y nondisjunction and skewed sex chromosome segregation ratios (meiotic drive). Y and XY classes are recovered poorly because of sperm dysfunction. In this study it was found that X heterochromatic deficiencies disrupt recovery not only of the Y chromosome but also of the X and autosomes, that; both heterochromatic and euchromatic regions of chromosomes are affected and that the “sensitivity” of a chromosome to meiotic drive is a function of its length. Two models to explain these results are considered. One is a competitive model that proposes that all chromosomes must compete for a scarce chromosome-binding material in Xh- males. The failure to observe competitive interactions among chromosome recovery probabilities rules out this model. The second is a pairing model which holds that normal spermiogenesis requires X-Y pairing at special heterochromatic pairing sites. Unsaturated pairing sites become gametic lethals. This model fails to account for autosomal sensitivity to meiotic drive. It is also contradicted by evidence that saturation of Y-pairing sites fails to suppress meiotic drive in Xh- males and that extra X-pairing sites in an otherwise normal male do not induce drive. It is argued that meiotic drive results from separation of X euchromatin from X heterochromatin.