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Genetics. 2013 Mar;193(3):819-28. doi: 10.1534/genetics.112.148635. Epub 2013 Jan 10.

Meiotic sex chromosome inactivation is disrupted in sterile hybrid male house mice.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA. pollyc@email.arizona.edu

Abstract

In male mammals, the X and Y chromosomes are transcriptionally silenced in primary spermatocytes by meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI) and remain repressed for the duration of spermatogenesis. Here, we test the longstanding hypothesis that disrupted MSCI might contribute to the preferential sterility of heterogametic hybrid males. We studied a cross between wild-derived inbred strains of Mus musculus musculus and M. m. domesticus in which sterility is asymmetric: F1 males with a M. m. musculus mother are sterile or nearly so while F1 males with a M. m. domesticus mother are normal. In previous work, we discovered widespread overexpression of X-linked genes in the testes of sterile but not fertile F1 males. Here, we ask whether this overexpression is specifically a result of disrupted MSCI. To do this, we isolated cells from different stages of spermatogenesis and measured the expression of several genes using quantitative PCR. We found that X overexpression in sterile F1 primary spermatocytes is coincident with the onset of MSCI and persists in postmeiotic spermatids. Using a series of recombinant X genotypes, we then asked whether X overexpression in hybrids is controlled by cis-acting loci across the X chromosome. We found that it is not. Instead, one large interval in the proximal portion of the M. m. musculus X chromosome is associated with both overexpression and the severity of sterility phenotypes in hybrids. These results demonstrate a strong association between X-linked hybrid male sterility and disruption of MSCI and suggest that trans-acting loci on the X are important for the transcriptional regulation of the X chromosome during spermatogenesis.

PMID:
23307891
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3584000
Free PMC Article

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