Nonrandom gene loss from the Drosophila miranda neo-Y chromosome

Vera B Kaiser, Qi Zhou, Doris Bachtrog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A lack of recombination leads to the degeneration of an evolving Y chromosome. However, it is not known whether gene loss is largely a random process and primarily driven by the order in which mutations occur or whether certain categories of genes are lost less quickly than others; the latter would imply that selection counteracts the degeneration of Y chromosomes to some extent. In this study, we investigate the relationship between putative ancestral expression levels of neo-Y-linked genes in Drosophila miranda and their rates of degeneration. We use RNA-Seq data from its close relative Drosophila pseudoobscura to show that genes that have become nonfunctional on the D. miranda neo-Y had, on average, lower ancestral transcript levels and were expressed in fewer tissues compared with genes with intact reading frames. We also show that genes with male-biased expression are retained for longer on the neo-Y compared with female-biased genes. Our results imply that gene loss on the neo-Y is not a purely random, mutation-driven process. Instead, selection is--at least to some extent--preserving the function of genes that are more costly to lose, despite the strongly reduced efficacy of selection on the neo-Y chromosome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1329-37
Number of pages9
JournalGenome Biology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Drosophila
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Genes, Y-Linked
  • Male
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Y Chromosome


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