The phenotypic impact of the male-specific region of chromosome-Y in inbred mating: the role of genetic variants and gene duplications in multiple inbred rat strains

Biol Sex Differ. 2016 Feb 3;7:10. doi: 10.1186/s13293-016-0064-z. eCollection 2016.


Backgound: The male-specific region of chromosome-Y (MSY) contributes to phenotypes outside of testis development and has a high rate of evolution between mammalian species. With a lack of genomic crossover, MSY is one of the few genomic areas under similar variation and evolutionary selection in inbred and outbred animal populations, allowing for an assessment of evolutionary mechanisms to translate between the populations.

Methods: Using next-generation sequencing, MSY consomic strains, molecular characterization, and large-scale phenotyping, we present here regions of MSY that contribute to inbred strain phenotypes.

Results: We have shown that (1) MSY of rat has nine autosomal gene transposition events with strain-specific selection; (2) sequence variants in MSY occur with a 1.98-fold higher number of variants than other chromosomes in seven sequenced rat strains; (3) Sry, the most studied MSY gene, has undergone extensive gene duplications, driving ubiquitous expression not seen in human or mouse; (4) the expression profile of Sry in the rat is driven by the insertion of the Sry2 copy into an intron of the ubiquitously expressed Kdm5d gene in antisense orientation, but due to several loss of function mutations in the Sry2 protein, nuclear localization and transcriptional control are decreased; (5) expression of Sry copies other than Sry2 in the rat overlaps with the expression profile for human SRY; (6) gene duplications and sequence variants (P76T) of Sry can be selected for phenotypes such as high blood pressure and androgen receptor signaling within inbred mating; and most importantly, (7) per chromosome size, MSY contributes to higher strain-specific phenotypic variation relative to all other chromosomes, with 53 phenotypes showing both a male to female and consomic cross significance.

Conclusion: The data presented supports a high probability of MSY genetic variation altering a broad range of inbred rat phenotypes.

Keywords: Gene duplications; Inbred mating; MSY; Med14y; Phenotypic variation; Rattus norvegicus; Sry; Ube2q2y.