Dynamic sex chromosome expression in Drosophila male germ cells

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2021-12-01

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Mahadevaraju, Sharvani
Fear, Justin M.
Akeju, Miriam
Galletta, Brian J.
Pinheiro, Mara M. L. S.
Avelino, Camila C.
Cabral-de-Mello, Diogo C. [UNESP]
Conlon, Katie
Dell’Orso, Stafania
Demere, Zelalem

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Given their copy number differences and unique modes of inheritance, the evolved gene content and expression of sex chromosomes is unusual. In many organisms the X and Y chromosomes are inactivated in spermatocytes, possibly as a defense mechanism against insertions into unpaired chromatin. In addition to current sex chromosomes, Drosophila has a small gene-poor X-chromosome relic (4th) that re-acquired autosomal status. Here we use single cell RNA-Seq on fly larvae to demonstrate that the single X and pair of 4th chromosomes are specifically inactivated in primary spermatocytes, based on measuring all genes or a set of broadly expressed genes in testis we identified. In contrast, genes on the single Y chromosome become maximally active in primary spermatocytes. Reduced X transcript levels are due to failed activation of RNA-Polymerase-II by phosphorylation of Serine 2 and 5.

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Nature Communications, v. 12, n. 1, 2021.