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Masculinization of the X Chromosome in the Pea Aphid

Abstract : Evolutionary theory predicts that sexually antagonistic mutations accumulate differentially on the X chromosome and autosomes in species with an XY sex-determination system, with effects (masculinization or feminization of the X) depending on the dominance of mutations. Organisms with alternative modes of inheritance of sex chromosomes offer interesting opportunities for studying sexual conflicts and their resolution, because expectations for the preferred genomic location of sexually antagonistic alleles may differ from standard systems. Aphids display an XX/X0 system and combine an unusual inheritance of the X chromosome with the alternation of sexual and asexual reproduction. In this study, we first investigated theoretically the accumulation of sexually antagonistic mutations on the aphid X chromosome. Our results show that i) the X is always more favourable to the spread of male-beneficial alleles than autosomes, and should thus be enriched in sexually antagonistic alleles beneficial for males, ii) sexually antagonistic mutations beneficial for asexual females accumulate preferentially on autosomes, iii) in contrast to predictions for standard systems, these qualitative results are not affected by the dominance of mutations. Under the assumption that sex-biased gene expression evolves to solve conflicts raised by the spread of sexually antagonistic alleles, one expects that male-biased genes should be enriched on the X while asexual female-biased genes should be enriched on autosomes. Using gene expression data (RNA-Seq) in males, sexual females and asexual females of the pea aphid, we confirm these theoretical predictions. Although other mechanisms than the resolution of sexual antagonism may lead to sex-biased gene expression, we argue that they could hardly explain the observed difference between X and autosomes. On top of reporting a strong masculinization of the aphid X chromosome, our study highlights the relevance of organisms displaying an alternative mode of sex chromosome inheritance to understanding the forces shaping chromosome evolution.
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Julie Jaquiéry, Claude Rispe, Denis Roze, Fabrice Legeai, Gaël Le Trionnaire, et al.. Masculinization of the X Chromosome in the Pea Aphid. PLoS Genetics, Public Library of Science, 2013, 9 (8), pp.e1003690. ⟨10.1371/journal.pgen.1003690⟩. ⟨hal-00916967⟩

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