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Gene-level, but not chromosome-wide, divergence between a very young house fly proto-Y chromosome and its homologous proto-X chromosome

By Jae Hak Son, Richard P Meisel

Posted 03 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.02.022707

X and Y chromosomes are usually derived from a pair of homologous autosomes, which then diverge from each other over time. Although Y-specific features have been characterized in sex chromosomes of various ages, the earliest stages of Y chromosome evolution remain elusive. In particular, we do not know whether early stages of Y chromosome evolution consist of changes to individual genes or happen via chromosome-scale divergence from the X. To address this question, we quantified divergence between young proto-X and proto-Y chromosomes in the house fly, Musca domestica . We compared proto-sex chromosome sequence and gene expression between genotypic (XY) and sex-reversed (XX) males. We find evidence for sequence divergence between genes on the proto-X and proto-Y, including five genes with mitochondrial functions. There is also an excess of genes with divergent expression between the proto-X and proto-Y, but the number of genes is small. This suggests that individual proto-Y genes, but not the entire proto-Y chromosome, have diverged from the proto-X. We identified one gene, encoding an axonemal dynein assembly factor (which functions in sperm motility), that has higher expression in XY males than XX males because of a disproportionate contribution of the proto-Y allele to gene expression. The up-regulation of the proto-Y allele may be favored in males because of this gene’s function in spermatogenesis. The evolutionary divergence between proto-X and proto-Y copies of this gene, as well as the mitochondrial genes, is consistent with selection in males affecting the evolution of individual genes during early Y chromosome evolution. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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