Over the 180 My since their origin, the sex chromosomes of mammals have evolved a gene repertoire highly specialized for function in the male germline. The mouse Y chromosome is unique among mammalian Y chromosomes characterized to date in that it is large, gene-rich and euchromatic. Yet, little is known about its diversity in natural populations. Here, we take advantage of published whole-genome sequencing data to survey the diversity of sequence and copy number of sex-linked genes in three subspecies of house mice. Copy number of genes on the repetitive long arm of both sex chromosomes is highly variable, but sequence diversity in nonrepetitive regions is decreased relative to expectations based on autosomes. We use simulations and theory to show that this reduction in sex-linked diversity is incompatible with neutral demographic processes alone, but is consistent with recent positive selection on genes active during spermatogenesis. Our results support the hypothesis that the mouse sex chromosomes are engaged in ongoing intragenomic conflict.
Keywords: intragenomic conflict; mouse evolution; sex chromosome evolution.
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