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.
Journal: Nature communications