On the Origin and Evolution of Drosophila New Genes during Spermatogenesis

Genes (Basel). 2021 Nov 15;12(11):1796. doi: 10.3390/genes12111796.


The origin of functional new genes is a basic biological process that has significant contribution to organismal diversity. Previous studies in both Drosophila and mammals showed that new genes tend to be expressed in testes and avoid the X chromosome, presumably because of meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI). Here, we analyze the published single-cell transcriptome data of Drosophila adult testis and find an enrichment of male germline mitotic genes, but an underrepresentation of meiotic genes on the X chromosome. This can be attributed to an excess of autosomal meiotic genes that were derived from their X-linked mitotic progenitors, which provides direct cell-level evidence for MSCI in Drosophila. We reveal that new genes, particularly those produced by retrotransposition, tend to exhibit an expression shift toward late spermatogenesis compared with their parental copies, probably due to the more intensive sperm competition or sexual conflict. Our results dissect the complex factors including age, the origination mechanisms and the chromosomal locations that influence the new gene origination and evolution in testes, and identify new gene cases that show divergent cell-level expression patterns from their progenitors for future functional studies.

Keywords: meiotic sex chromosome inactivation; new genes; out of the X; single-cell RNA-seq.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect*
  • Male
  • Meiosis
  • Retroelements
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics*
  • X Chromosome Inactivation


  • Retroelements