Journal Article

Nonrandom Gene Loss from the <i>Drosophila miranda</i> Neo-Y Chromosome

Vera B. Kaiser, Qi Zhou and Doris Bachtrog

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 3, issue , pages 1329-1337
Published in print January 2011 |
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
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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.

Keywords: sex chromosomes; evolution; Drosophila pseudoobscura; sex-biased gene expression; tissue specificity; degeneration

Journal Article.  5362 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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