Heterogametic species require chromosome-wide gene regulation to compensate for differences in sex chromosome gene dosage. In Drosophila melanogaster, transcriptional output from the single male X-chromosome is equalized to that of XX females by recruitment of the male-specific lethal (MSL) complex, which increases transcript levels of active genes 2-fold. The MSL complex contains several protein components and two non-coding RNA on the X ( roX) RNAs that are transcriptionally activated by the MSL complex. We previously discovered that targeting of the MSL complex to the X-chromosome is dependent on the chromatin-linked adapter for MSL proteins (CLAMP) zinc finger protein. To better understand CLAMP function, we used the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system to generate a frameshift mutation in the clamp gene that eliminates expression of the CLAMP protein. We found that clamp null females die at the third instar larval stage, while almost all clamp null males die at earlier developmental stages. Moreover, we found that in clamp null females roX gene expression is activated, whereas in clamp null males roX gene expression is reduced. Therefore, CLAMP regulates roX abundance in a sex-specific manner. Our results provide new insights into sex-specific gene regulation by an essential transcription factor.
Keywords: Drosophila; dosage compensation; gene regulation; transcription factor.