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Temperature-dependent effects of house fly proto-Y chromosomes on gene expression

By Kiran Adhikari, Jae Hak Son, Anna H Rensink, Jaweria Jaweria, Daniel Bopp, Leo Beukeboom, Richard P Meisel

Posted 05 Aug 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.05.238378

Sex determination, the developmental process by which sexually dimorphic phenotypes are established, evolves fast. Species with polygenic sex determination, in which master regulatory genes are found on multiple different proto-sex chromosomes, are informative models to study the evolution of sex determination. House flies are such a model system, with male determining loci possible on all six chromosomes and a female-determiner on one of the chromosomes as well. The two most common male-determining proto-Y chromosomes form latitudinal clines on multiple continents, suggesting that temperature variation is an important selection pressure responsible for maintaining polygenic sex determination in this species. To identify candidate genes that may be under selection, we used RNA-seq to test for temperature-dependent effects of the proto-Y chromosomes on gene expression in adult house flies. We find no evidence for ecologically meaningful temperature-dependent expression of sex determining genes between male genotypes, but we were likely not sampling an appropriate developmental time-point to identify such effect. In contrast, we identified many other genes whose expression depends on the interaction between proto-Y chromosome genotype and temperature, including genes that encode proteins involved in reproduction, metabolism, lifespan, stress response, and immunity. Notably, genes with genotype-by-temperature interactions on expression are not enriched on the proto-sex chromosomes. Moreover, there is no evidence that temperature-dependent expression is driven by chromosome-wide expression divergence between the proto-Y and proto-X alleles. Therefore, if temperature-dependent gene expression is responsible for differences in phenotypes and fitness of proto-Y genotypes across house fly populations, these effects are driven by a small number of temperature-dependent alleles on the proto-Y chromosomes that may in turn affect the expression of genes on other chromosomes.

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