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Genes Genet Syst. 2013;88(2):113-26.

Elimination of Y chromosome-bearing spermatids during spermiogenesis in an autosomal sex-ratio mutant of Drosophila simulans.

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  • 1Drosophila Genetic Resource Center, Kyoto Institute of Technology, Saga-Ippongi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8354, Japan.


Sex ratio distortion, which is commonly abbreviated as sex-ratio, has been studied in many Drosophila species, but the mechanism remains largely unknown. Here, we report on the sex-ratio mutant of D. simulans named excess of females (exf). The third chromosomal recessive mutation results in a sex ratio of approximately 0.2 or less (males/total). Cytological observation demonstrated that meiosis appeared to be completed normally, but that most Y chromosome-bearing nuclei failed to elongate during spermiogenesis, as revealed by fluorescence in situ hybridization using sex chromosome-specific probes. These aberrant nuclei contained membranous inclusions as revealed by electron microscopic analysis. Most of the aberrant exf spermatids failed to individualize and mature, suggesting that a later stage of spermiogenesis is involved in prevention of production of sperm with abnormal morphology. On the one hand, in exf seminal vesicles, sperm nuclei with a length of 5-8.5 μm were occasionally observed, in addition to those with wild-type sperm dimensions, that is, a length of approximately 10 μm. Thus, spermatids with less severe nuclear defects can escape elimination and be released into the seminal vesicles as mature sperm. Furthermore, we constructed His2AvD-GFP and ProtamineB-eGFP transgenic lines in D. simulans, and examined the processes involved in replacement of chromatin proteins over a time course, according to nuclear morphology. We found that both normal and abnormal sperm heads demonstrated equal chromatin replacement during late spermiogenesis. Our results suggest that exf belongs to a unique class of meiotic drive systems in that (1) intranuclear membranous inclusions cause failure of nuclear shaping of Y-bearing spermatids without affecting the histone-protamine transition, and (2) a portion of the aberrant spermatids differentiate into mature sperm; these are transferred to and stored by females.

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