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BMC Genomics

, 15:330

Comparative and evolutionary genomics


BackgroundMito-nuclear gene interactions regulate energy conversion, and are fundamental to eukaryotes. Generally, mito-nuclear coadaptation would be most efficient if the interacting nuclear genes were X-linked, because this maximizes the probability of favorable mito-nuclear allelic combinations co-transmitting across generations. Thus, under a coadaptation CA hypothesis, nuclear genes essential for mitochondrial function might be under selection to relocate to the X-chromosome. However, maternal inheritance predisposes the mitochondrial DNA mtDNA to accumulate variation that, while male-harming, is benign to females. Numerous nuclear genes were recently reported in Drosophila melanogaster, which exhibit male-specific patterns of differential expression when placed alongside different mtDNA haplotypes, suggesting that nuclear genes are sensitive to an underlying male-specific mitochondrial mutation load. These genes are thus candidates for involvement in mito-nuclear interactions driven by sexual conflict SC, and selection might have moved them off the X-chromosome to facilitate an optimal evolutionary counter-response, through males, to the presence of male-harming mtDNA mutations. Furthermore, the presence of male-harming mtDNA mutations could exert selection for modifiers on the Y-chromosome, thus placing these mito-sensitive nuclear genes at the center of an evolutionary tug-of-war between mitochondrion and Y-chromosome.

We test these hypotheses by examining the chromosomal distributions of three distinct sets of mitochondrial-interacting nuclear genes in D. melanogaster; the first is a list of genes with mitochondrial annotations by Gene Ontologies, the second is a list comprising the core evolutionary-conserved mitochondrial proteome, and the third is a list of genes involved in male-specific responses to maternally-inherited mitochondrial variation and which might be putative targets of Y-chromosomal regulation.

ResultsGenes with mitochondrial annotations and genes representing the mitochondrial proteome do not exhibit statistically-significant biases in chromosomal representation. However, genes exhibiting sex-specific sensitivity to mtDNA are under-represented on the X-chromosome, over-represented among genes known to be sensitive to Y-chromosomal variation, and among genes previously associated with male fitness, but under-represented among genes associated with direct sexual antagonism.

ConclusionsOur results are consistent with the SC hypothesis, suggesting that mitochondrial mutational pressure selects for gene movement off-the-X, hence enabling mito-nuclear coadaptation to proceed along trajectories that result in optimized fitness in both sexes.

KeywordsGene expression Sexual selection Sexual conflict Genomic conflict mtDNA Genome evolution Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-2164-15-330 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Björn Rogell - Rebecca Dean - Bernardo Lemos - Damian K Dowling


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