July 19, 2019  |  

Long-read single molecule sequencing to resolve tandem gene copies: The Mst77Y region on the Drosophila melanogaster Y chromosome.

The autosomal gene Mst77F of Drosophila melanogaster is essential for male fertility. In 2010, Krsticevic et al. (Genetics 184: 295-307) found 18 Y-linked copies of Mst77F (“Mst77Y”), which collectively account for 20% of the functional Mst77F-like mRNA. The Mst77Y genes were severely misassembled in the then-available genome assembly and were identified by cloning and sequencing polymerase chain reaction products. The genomic structure of the Mst77Y region and the possible existence of additional copies remained unknown. The recent publication of two long-read assemblies of D. melanogaster prompted us to reinvestigate this challenging region of the Y chromosome. We found that the Illumina Synthetic Long Reads assembly failed in the Mst77Y region, most likely because of its tandem duplication structure. The PacBio MHAP assembly of the Mst77Y region seems to be very accurate, as revealed by comparisons with the previously found Mst77Y genes, a bacterial artificial chromosome sequence, and Illumina reads of the same strain. We found that the Mst77Y region spans 96 kb and originated from a 3.4-kb transposition from chromosome 3L to the Y chromosome, followed by tandem duplications inside the Y chromosome and invasion of transposable elements, which account for 48% of its length. Twelve of the 18 Mst77Y genes found in 2010 were confirmed in the PacBio assembly, the remaining six being polymerase chain reaction-induced artifacts. There are several identical copies of some Mst77Y genes, coincidentally bringing the total copy number to 18. Besides providing a detailed picture of the Mst77Y region, our results highlight the utility of PacBio technology in assembling difficult genomic regions such as tandemly repeated genes. Copyright © 2015 Krsticevic et al.


July 19, 2019  |  

Birth of a new gene on the Y chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster.

Contrary to the pattern seen in mammalian sex chromosomes, where most Y-linked genes have X-linked homologs, the Drosophila X and Y chromosomes appear to be unrelated. Most of the Y-linked genes have autosomal paralogs, so autosome-to-Y transposition must be the main source of Drosophila Y-linked genes. Here we show how these genes were acquired. We found a previously unidentified gene (flagrante delicto Y, FDY) that originated from a recent duplication of the autosomal gene vig2 to the Y chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster. Four contiguous genes were duplicated along with vig2, but they became pseudogenes through the accumulation of deletions and transposable element insertions, whereas FDY remained functional, acquired testis-specific expression, and now accounts for ~20% of the vig2-like mRNA in testis. FDY is absent in the closest relatives of D. melanogaster, and DNA sequence divergence indicates that the duplication to the Y chromosome occurred ~2 million years ago. Thus, FDY provides a snapshot of the early stages of the establishment of a Y-linked gene and demonstrates how the Drosophila Y has been accumulating autosomal genes.


July 19, 2019  |  

Radical remodeling of the Y chromosome in a recent radiation of malaria mosquitoes.

Y chromosomes control essential male functions in many species, including sex determination and fertility. However, because of obstacles posed by repeat-rich heterochromatin, knowledge of Y chromosome sequences is limited to a handful of model organisms, constraining our understanding of Y biology across the tree of life. Here, we leverage long single-molecule sequencing to determine the content and structure of the nonrecombining Y chromosome of the primary African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. We find that the An. gambiae Y consists almost entirely of a few massively amplified, tandemly arrayed repeats, some of which can recombine with similar repeats on the X chromosome. Sex-specific genome resequencing in a recent species radiation, the An. gambiae complex, revealed rapid sequence turnover within An. gambiae and among species. Exploiting 52 sex-specific An. gambiae RNA-Seq datasets representing all developmental stages, we identified a small repertoire of Y-linked genes that lack X gametologs and are not Y-linked in any other species except An. gambiae, with the notable exception of YG2, a candidate male-determining gene. YG2 is the only gene conserved and exclusive to the Y in all species examined, yet sequence similarity to YG2 is not detectable in the genome of a more distant mosquito relative, suggesting rapid evolution of Y chromosome genes in this highly dynamic genus of malaria vectors. The extensive characterization of the An. gambiae Y provides a long-awaited foundation for studying male mosquito biology, and will inform novel mosquito control strategies based on the manipulation of Y chromosomes.


July 19, 2019  |  

Genomic changes following the reversal of a Y chromosome to an autosome in Drosophila pseudoobscura

Robertsonian translocations resulting in fusions between sex chromosomes and autosomes shape karyotype evolution by creating new sex chromosomes from autosomes. These translocations can also reverse sex chromosomes back into autosomes, which is especially intriguing given the dramatic differences between autosomes and sex chromosomes. To study the genomic events following a Y chromosome reversal, we investigated an autosome-Y translocation in Drosophila pseudoobscura. The ancestral Y chromosome fused to a small autosome (the dot chromosome) approximately 10–15 Mya. We used single molecule real-time sequencing reads to assemble the D. pseudoobscura dot chromosome, including this Y-to-dot translocation. We find that the intervening sequence between the ancestral Y and the rest of the dot chromosome is only ~78 Kb and is not repeat-dense, suggesting that the centromere now falls outside, rather than between, the fused chromosomes. The Y-to-dot region is 100 times smaller than the D. melanogaster Y chromosome, owing to changes in repeat landscape. However, we do not find a consistent reduction in intron sizes across the Y-to-dot region. Instead, deletions in intergenic regions and possibly a small ancestral Y chromosome size may explain the compact size of the Y-to-dot translocation.


July 7, 2019  |  

Chromosomal rearrangements as barriers to genetic homogenization between archaic and modern humans.

Chromosomal rearrangements, which shuffle DNA throughout the genome, are an important source of divergence across taxa. Using a paired-end read approach with Illumina sequence data for archaic humans, I identify changes in genome structure that occurred recently in human evolution. Hundreds of rearrangements indicate genomic trafficking between the sex chromosomes and autosomes, raising the possibility of sex-specific changes. Additionally, genes adjacent to genome structure changes in Neanderthals are associated with testis-specific expression, consistent with evolutionary theory that new genes commonly form with expression in the testes. I identify one case of new-gene creation through transposition from the Y chromosome to chromosome 10 that combines the 5′-end of the testis-specific gene Fank1 with previously untranscribed sequence. This new transcript experienced copy number expansion in archaic genomes, indicating rapid genomic change. Among rearrangements identified in Neanderthals, 13% are transposition of selfish genetic elements, whereas 32% appear to be ectopic exchange between repeats. In Denisovan, the pattern is similar but numbers are significantly higher with 18% of rearrangements reflecting transposition and 40% ectopic exchange between distantly related repeats. There is an excess of divergent rearrangements relative to polymorphism in Denisovan, which might result from nonuniform rates of mutation, possibly reflecting a burst of transposable element activity in the lineage that led to Denisovan. Finally, loci containing genome structure changes show diminished rates of introgression from Neanderthals into modern humans, consistent with the hypothesis that rearrangements serve as barriers to gene flow during hybridization. Together, these results suggest that this previously unidentified source of genomic variation has important biological consequences in human evolution. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.


July 7, 2019  |  

Site-specific genetic engineering of the Anopheles gambiae Y chromosome.

Despite its function in sex determination and its role in driving genome evolution, the Y chromosome remains poorly understood in most species. Y chromosomes are gene-poor, repeat-rich and largely heterochromatic and therefore represent a difficult target for genetic engineering. The Y chromosome of the human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae appears to be involved in sex determination although very little is known about both its structure and function. Here, we characterize a transgenic strain of this mosquito species, obtained by transposon-mediated integration of a transgene construct onto the Y chromosome. Using meganuclease-induced homologous repair we introduce a site-specific recombination signal onto the Y chromosome and show that the resulting docking line can be used for secondary integration. To demonstrate its utility, we study the activity of a germ-line-specific promoter when located on the Y chromosome. We also show that Y-linked fluorescent transgenes allow automated sex separation of this important vector species, providing the means to generate large single-sex populations. Our findings will aid studies of sex chromosome function and enable the development of male-exclusive genetic traits for vector control.


July 7, 2019  |  

Insights into the preservation of the homomorphic sex-determining chromosome of Aedes aegypti from the discovery of a male-biased gene tightly linked to the M-locus.

The preservation of a homomorphic sex-determining chromosome in some organisms without transformation into a heteromorphic sex chromosome is a long-standing enigma in evolutionary biology. A dominant sex-determining locus (or M-locus) in an undifferentiated homomorphic chromosome confers the male phenotype in the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti. Genetic evidence suggests that the M-locus is in a nonrecombining region. However, the molecular nature of the M-locus has not been characterized. Using a recently developed approach based on Illumina sequencing of male and female genomic DNA, we identified a novel gene, myo-sex, that is present almost exclusively in the male genome but can sporadically be found in the female genome due to recombination. For simplicity, we define sequences that are primarily found in the male genome as male-biased. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) on A. aegypti chromosomes demonstrated that the myo-sex probe localized to region 1q21, the established location of the M-locus. Myo-sex is a duplicated myosin heavy chain gene that is highly expressed in the pupa and adult male. Myo-sex shares 83% nucleotide identity and 97% amino acid identity with its closest autosomal paralog, consistent with ancient duplication followed by strong purifying selection. Compared with males, myo-sex is expressed at very low levels in the females that acquired it, indicating that myo-sex may be sexually antagonistic. This study establishes a framework to discover male-biased sequences within a homomorphic sex-determining chromosome and offers new insights into the evolutionary forces that have impeded the expansion of the nonrecombining M-locus in A. aegypti.


July 7, 2019  |  

Pseudoautosomal region 1 length polymorphism in the human population.

The human sex chromosomes differ in sequence, except for the pseudoautosomal regions (PAR) at the terminus of the short and the long arms, denoted as PAR1 and PAR2. The boundary between PAR1 and the unique X and Y sequences was established during the divergence of the great apes. During a copy number variation screen, we noted a paternally inherited chromosome X duplication in 15 independent families. Subsequent genomic analysis demonstrated that an insertional translocation of X chromosomal sequence into theMa Y chromosome generates an extended PAR. The insertion is generated by non-allelic homologous recombination between a 548 bp LTR6B repeat within the Y chromosome PAR1 and a second LTR6B repeat located 105 kb from the PAR boundary on the X chromosome. The identification of the reciprocal deletion on the X chromosome in one family and the occurrence of the variant in different chromosome Y haplogroups demonstrate this is a recurrent genomic rearrangement in the human population. This finding represents a novel mechanism shaping sex chromosomal evolution.


July 7, 2019  |  

Co-option of Sox3 as the male-determining factor on the Y chromosome in the fish Oryzias dancena.

Sex chromosomes harbour a primary sex-determining signal that triggers sexual development of the organism. However, diverse sex chromosome systems have been evolved in vertebrates. Here we use positional cloning to identify the sex-determining locus of a medaka-related fish, Oryzias dancena, and find that the locus on the Y chromosome contains a cis-regulatory element that upregulates neighbouring Sox3 expression in developing gonad. Sex-reversed phenotypes in Sox3(Y) transgenic fish, and Sox3(Y) loss-of-function mutants all point to its critical role in sex determination. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Sox3 initiates testicular differentiation by upregulating expression of downstream Gsdf, which is highly conserved in fish sex differentiation pathways. Our results not only provide strong evidence for the independent recruitment of Sox3 to male determination in distantly related vertebrates, but also provide direct evidence that a novel sex determination pathway has evolved through co-option of a transcriptional regulator potentially interacted with a conserved downstream component.


July 7, 2019  |  

Convergent evolution of Y chromosome gene content in flies.

Sex-chromosomes have formed repeatedly across Diptera from ordinary autosomes, and X-chromosomes mostly conserve their ancestral genes. Y-chromosomes are characterized by abundant gene-loss and an accumulation of repetitive DNA, yet the nature of the gene repertoire of fly Y-chromosomes is largely unknown. Here we trace gene-content evolution of Y-chromosomes across 22 Diptera species, using a subtraction pipeline that infers Y genes from male and female genome, and transcriptome data. Few genes remain on old Y-chromosomes, but the number of inferred Y-genes varies substantially between species. Young Y-chromosomes still show clear evidence of their autosomal origins, but most genes on old Y-chromosomes are not simply remnants of genes originally present on the proto-sex-chromosome that escaped degeneration, but instead were recruited secondarily from autosomes. Despite almost no overlap in Y-linked gene content in different species with independently formed sex-chromosomes, we find that Y-linked genes have evolved convergent gene functions associated with testis expression. Thus, male-specific selection appears as a dominant force shaping gene-content evolution of Y-chromosomes across fly species.While X-chromosome gene content tends to be conserved, Y-chromosome evolution is dynamic and difficult to reconstruct. Here, Mahajan and Bachtrog use a subtraction pipeline to identify Y-linked genes in 22 Diptera species, revealing patterns of Y-chromosome gene-content evolution.


July 7, 2019  |  

A time- and cost-effective strategy to sequence mammalian Y Chromosomes: an application to the de novo assembly of gorilla Y.

The mammalian Y Chromosome sequence, critical for studying male fertility and dispersal, is enriched in repeats and palindromes, and thus, is the most difficult component of the genome to assemble. Previously, expensive and labor-intensive BAC-based techniques were used to sequence the Y for a handful of mammalian species. Here, we present a much faster and more affordable strategy for sequencing and assembling mammalian Y Chromosomes of sufficient quality for most comparative genomics analyses and for conservation genetics applications. The strategy combines flow sorting, short- and long-read genome and transcriptome sequencing, and droplet digital PCR with novel and existing computational methods. It can be used to reconstruct sex chromosomes in a heterogametic sex of any species. We applied our strategy to produce a draft of the gorilla Y sequence. The resulting assembly allowed us to refine gene content, evaluate copy number of ampliconic gene families, locate species-specific palindromes, examine the repetitive element content, and produce sequence alignments with human and chimpanzee Y Chromosomes. Our results inform the evolution of the hominine (human, chimpanzee, and gorilla) Y Chromosomes. Surprisingly, we found the gorilla Y Chromosome to be similar to the human Y Chromosome, but not to the chimpanzee Y Chromosome. Moreover, we have utilized the assembled gorilla Y Chromosome sequence to design genetic markers for studying the male-specific dispersal of this endangered species. © 2016 Tomaszkiewicz et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.


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