The organization and evolution of the Responder satellite in species of the Drosophila melanogaster group: dynamic evolution of a target of meiotic drive

Larracuente, AM,  BMC Evolutionary Biology,  14:233. 2014.

: Satellite DNA can make up a substantial fraction of eukaryotic genomes and has roles in genome structure and chromosome segregation. The rapid evolution of satellite DNA can contribute to genomic instability and genetic incompatibilities between species. Despite its ubiquity and its contribution to genome evolution, we currently know little about the dynamics of satellite DNA evolution. The Responder (Rsp) satellite DNA family is found in the pericentric heterochromatin of chromosome 2 of Drosophila melanogaster. Rsp is well-known for being the target of Segregation Distorter (SD) an autosomal meiotic drive system in D. melanogaster. I present an evolutionary genetic analysis of the Rsp family of repeats in D. melanogaster and its closely-related species in the melanogaster group (D. simulans, D. sechellia, D. mauritiana, D. erecta, and D. yakuba) using a combination of available BAC sequences, whole genome shotgun Sanger reads, Illumina short read deep sequencing, and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Results: I show that Rsp repeats have euchromatic locations throughout the D. melanogaster genome, that Rsp arrays show evidence for concerted evolution, and that Rsp repeats exist outside of D. melanogaster, in the melanogaster group. The repeats in these species are considerably diverged at the sequence level compared to D. melanogaster, and have a strikingly different genomic distribution, even between closely-related sister taxa. Conclusions: The genomic organization of the Rsp repeat in the D. melanogaster genome is complex it exists of large blocks of tandem repeats in the heterochromatin and small blocks of tandem repeats in the euchromatin. My discovery of heterochromatic Rsp-like sequences outside of D. melanogaster suggests that SD evolved after its target satellite and that the evolution of the Rsp satellite family is highly dynamic over a short evolutionary time scale (<240,000 years).