A long-term demasculinization of X-linked intergenic noncoding RNAs in Drosophila melanogaster

Genome Res. 2014 Apr;24(4):629-38. doi: 10.1101/gr.165837.113. Epub 2014 Jan 9.


Recent studies have revealed key roles of noncoding RNAs in sex-related pathways, but little is known about the evolutionary forces acting on these noncoding RNAs. Profiling the transcriptome of Drosophila melanogaster with whole-genome tiling arrays found that 15% of male-biased transcribed fragments are intergenic noncoding RNAs (incRNAs), suggesting a potentially important role for incRNAs in sex-related biological processes. Statistical analysis revealed a paucity of male-biased incRNAs and coding genes on the X chromosome, suggesting that similar evolutionary forces could be affecting the genomic organization of both coding and noncoding genes. Expression profiling across germline and somatic tissues further suggested that both male meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI) and sexual antagonism could contribute to the chromosomal distribution of male-biased incRNAs. Comparative sequence analysis showed that the evolutionary age of male-biased incRNAs is a significant predictor of their chromosomal locations. In addition to identifying abundant sex-biased incRNAs in the fly genome, our work unveils a global picture of the complex interplay between noncoding RNAs and sexual chromosome evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Intergenic / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes, X-Linked / genetics*
  • Genome, Insect
  • Male
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • X Chromosome / genetics
  • X Chromosome Inactivation / genetics


  • DNA, Intergenic
  • RNA, Untranslated

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE53421