The Y Chromosome as a Battleground for Intragenomic Conflict

D. Bachtrog,  Trends in Genetics,  2020.

Y chromosomes are typically viewed as genetic wastelands with few intact genes. Recent genomic analyses in Drosophila, however, show that gene gain is prominent on young Y chromosomes. Meiosis- and RNAi-related genes often coamplify on recently formed X and Y chromosomes, are testis-expressed, and produce antisense transcripts and short RNAs. RNAi pathways are also involved in suppressing sex ratio drive in Drosophila. These observations paint a dynamic picture of sex chromosome differentiation, suggesting that rapidly evolving genomic battles over segregation are rampant on young sex chromosomes and utilize RNAi to defend the genome against selfish elements that manipulate fair meiosis. Recurrent sex chromosome drive can have profound ecological, evolutionary, and cellular impacts and account for unique features of sex chromosomes.

 


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