Genome elimination mediated by gene expression from a selfish chromosome

Sci Adv. 2020 Apr 3;6(14):eaaz9808. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz9808. eCollection 2020 Apr.


Numerous plants and animals harbor selfish B chromosomes that "drive" or transmit themselves at super-Mendelian frequencies, despite long-term fitness costs to the organism. Currently, it is unknown how B chromosome drive is mediated, and whether B-gene expression plays a role. We used modern sequencing technologies to analyze the fine-scale sequence composition and expression of paternal sex ratio (PSR), a B chromosome in the jewel wasp Nasonia vitripennis. PSR causes female-to-male conversion by destroying the sperm's hereditary material in young embryos to drive. Using RNA interference, we demonstrate that testis-specific expression of a PSR-linked gene, named haploidizer, facilitates this genome elimination-and-sex conversion effect. haploidizer encodes a putative protein with a DNA binding domain, suggesting a functional link with the sperm-derived chromatin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes*
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genome*
  • Genomics / methods
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • RNA Interference
  • Testis / metabolism