Chromosome elimination in sciarid flies

Bioessays. 2001 Mar;23(3):242-50. doi: 10.1002/1521-1878(200103)23:3<242::AID-BIES1034>3.0.CO;2-P.


The programmed elimination of part of the genome through chromosome loss or chromatin diminution constitutes an exceptional biological process found to be present in several diverse groups of organisms. The occurrence of this phenomenon during early embryogenesis is generally correlated to somatic versus germ-line differentiation. A most outstanding example of chromosome elimination and genomic imprinting is found in sciarid flies, where whole chromosomes of exclusive parental origin are selectively eliminated at different developmental stages. Three types of tissue-specific chromosome elimination events occur in sciarids. During early cleavages, one or two X paternal chromosomes is/are discarded from somatic cells of embryos which then develop as females or males respectively. Thus, the sex of the embryo is determined by the number of eliminated paternal X chromosomes. In germ cells, instead, a single paternal X chromosome is eliminated in embryos of both sexes. In addition, while female meiosis is orthodox, male meiosis is highly unusual as the whole paternal chromosome set is discarded from spermatocytes. As a consequence, only maternally derived chromosomes are included in the functional sperm. This paper reviews current cytological and molecular knowledge on the tissue-specific cell mechanisms evolved to achieve chromosome elimination in sciarids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Diptera / embryology*
  • Diptera / genetics*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Morphogenesis
  • X Chromosome