Academic journal article Genetics

Recurrent Selection on the Winters Sex-Ratio Genes in Drosophila Simulans

Academic journal article Genetics

Recurrent Selection on the Winters Sex-Ratio Genes in Drosophila Simulans

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Selfish genes, such as meiotic drive elements, propagate themselves through a population without increasing the fitness of host organisms. X-linked (or Y-linked) meiotic drive elements reduce the transmission of the Y (X) chromosome and skew progeny and population sex ratios, leading to intense conflict among genomic compartments. Drosophila simulans is unusual in having a least three distinct systems of X chromosome meiotic drive. Here, we characterize naturally occurring genetic variation at the Winters sex-ratio driver (Distorter on the X or Dox), its progenitor gene (Mother of Dox or MDox), and its suppressor gene (Not Much Yang or Nmy), which have been previously mapped and characterized. We survey three North American populations as well as 13 globally distributed strains and present molecular polymorphism data at the three loci. We find that all three genes show signatures of selection in North America, judging from levels of polymorphism and skews in the site-frequency spectrum. These signatures likely result from the biased transmission of the driver and selection on the suppressor for the maintenance of equal sex ratios. Coalescent modeling indicates that the timing of selection is more recent than the age of the alleles, suggesting that the driver and suppressor are coevolving under an evolutionary "arms race." None of the Winters sex-ratio genes are fixed in D. simulans, and at all loci we find ancestral alleles, which lack the gene insertions and exhibit high levels of nucleotide polymorphism compared to the derived alleles. In addition, we find several "null" alleles that have mutations on the derived Dox background, which result in loss of drive function. We discuss the possible causes of the maintenance of presence-absence polymorphism in the Winters sex-ratio genes.

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MEIOTIC drive can leave signatures in the genome similar to positive natural selection without increasing the fitness of an organism (Lyttle 1993). Drive elements are preferentially transmitted duringmeiosis by disrupting the development or function of sperm carrying the homologous chromosome (Zimmering et al. 1970, meiotic drive sensu lato), or by true chromosome segregation defects during meiosis (Sandler and Novitski 1957, meiotic drive sensu stricto; Tao et al. 2007a). While drive elements may arise on any chromosome, sex-linked drivers have higher population invasion probabilities than autosomal drivers and are more easily detected due to their impact on progeny sex ratios (Hurst and Pomiankowski 1991). To survive, a driver must maintain tight linkage with an insensitive target locus lest it drive against itself, a condition ensured by the lack of recombination between sex chromosomes (Charlesworth and Hartl 1978). Because of the impact drive elements have on sex ratios, sexlinked drivers are often referred to as "sex-ratio distorters" and the phenotype of skewed progeny sex ratios is termed "sex-ratio." The mere transmission advantage of a driver, unless balanced by some detrimental fitness effect or masked by a suppressor, can cause it to sweep through a population in a manner similar to a positively selected mutation (Edwards 1961; Vaz and Carvalho 2004).

Obviously, a complete sweep of a sex-linked driver dooms a male-less (or female-less) population to extinction (Hamilton 1967), and natural selection strongly favors genetic factors that suppress drive and restore Mendelian segregation. Fisher (1930) presented a qualitative argument for the maintenance of an equal sex ratio, which predicts selection on any heritable variant that increases the production of the rarer sex. Fisher's principle has been formalized mathematically and demonstrated empirically (e.g., Bodmer and Edwards 1960; Carvalho et al. 1998). Suppressors have been identified in a wide variety of meiotic drive systems and are predicted to be strongly favored by natural selection for the maintenance of equal sex ratios (reviewed by Jaenike 2001). …

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