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Genetics. Nov 2003; 165(3): 1317–1328.
PMCID: PMC1462813

Sequence differentiation associated with an inversion on the neo-X chromosome of Drosophila americana.


Sex chromosomes originate from pairs of autosomes that acquire controlling genes in the sex-determining cascade. Universal mechanisms apparently influence the evolution of sex chromosomes, because this chromosomal pair is characteristically heteromorphic in a broad range of organisms. To examine the pattern of initial differentiation between sex chromosomes, sequence analyses were performed on a pair of newly formed sex chromosomes in Drosophila americana. This species has neo-sex chromosomes as a result of a centromeric fusion between the X chromosome and an autosome. Sequences were analyzed from the Alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh), big brain (bib), and timeless (tim) gene regions, which represent separate positions along this pair of neo-sex chromosomes. In the northwestern range of the species, the bib and Adh regions exhibit significant sequence differentiation for neo-X chromosomes relative to neo-Y chromosomes from the same geographic region and other chromosomal populations of D. americana. Furthermore, a nucleotide site defining a common haplotype in bib is shown to be associated with a paracentric inversion [In(4)ab] on the neo-X chromosome, and this inversion suppresses recombination between neo-X and neo-Y chromosomes. These observations are consistent with the inversion acting as a recombination modifier that suppresses exchange between these neo-sex chromosomes, as predicted by models of sex chromosome evolution.

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