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PLoS Genet. 2020 Feb 7;16(2):e1008350. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008350. eCollection 2020 Feb.

Dramatically diverse Schizosaccharomyces pombe wtf meiotic drivers all display high gamete-killing efficiency.

Author information

1
Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri, United States of America.
2
Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas, United States of America.

Abstract

Meiotic drivers are selfish alleles that can force their transmission into more than 50% of the viable gametes made by heterozygotes. Meiotic drivers are known to cause infertility in a diverse range of eukaryotes and are predicted to affect the evolution of genome structure and meiosis. The wtf gene family of Schizosaccharomyces pombe includes both meiotic drivers and drive suppressors and thus offers a tractable model organism to study drive systems. Currently, only a handful of wtf genes have been functionally characterized and those genes only partially reflect the diversity of the wtf gene family. In this work, we functionally test 22 additional wtf genes for meiotic drive phenotypes. We identify eight new drivers that share between 30-90% amino acid identity with previously characterized drivers. Despite the vast divergence between these genes, they generally drive into >85% of gametes when heterozygous. We also identify three wtf genes that suppress other wtf drivers, including two that also act as autonomous drivers. Additionally, we find that wtf genes do not underlie a weak (64% allele transmission) meiotic driver on chromosome 1. Finally, we find that some Wtf proteins have expression or localization patterns that are distinct from the poison and antidote proteins encoded by drivers and suppressors, suggesting some wtf genes may have non-meiotic drive functions. Overall, this work expands our understanding of the wtf gene family and the burden selfish driver genes impose on S. pombe.

Conflict of interest statement

I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: S.E.Z. and M.A.B.N. are inventors on a patent application based on wtf killers (patent application serial 62/491,107). All other authors declare that no competing interests exist.

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