The human X chromosome is the target of megabase wide selective sweeps associated with multi-copy genes expressed in male meiosis and involved in reproductive isolation. M. H. Schierup1, K. Munch1, K. Nam1, T. Mailund1, J. Y. Dutheil2 1) Bioinformatics Research Centre, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark; 2) Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, Germany.
The X chromosome differs from the autosomes in its hemizogosity in males and in its intimate relationship with the very different Y chromosome. It has a different gene content than autosomes and undergo specific processes such as meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI) and XY body formation. Previous studies have shown that natural selection is more efficient against deleterious mutations and, in chimpanzee, that positive selection is prevalent. We show that in all great apes species, megabase wide regions of the X chromosome has severely reduced diversity (by more than 80%). These regions are partly shared among species and indicate a large number of strong selective sweeps that have occurred independently on the same set of targets in different great apes species. We use simulations and deterministic calculations to show that background selection or soft selective sweeps are unlikely to be responsible. The regions also bear all the hallmarks of selective sweeps such as an increased proportion of singletons and higher divergence among closely related populations. Human populations are differently affected, suggesting that a large fraction of sweeps are private to specific human populations. The regions of reduced diversity correlates strongly with the position of X-ampliconic regions, which are 100-500 kb regions containing multiple copies of genes that are solely expressed during male meiosis. We propose that the genes in these regions escape MSCI and participate in an intragenomic conflict with regions of similar function on the Y chromosome for transmission of sex chromosomes to the next generation, i.e. sex chromosome meiotic drive. Recent results from Neanderthal introgression into humans point to the same regions as showing no introgression, consistent with the above process leading to reproductive isolation. Strikingly, the same regions of the X also shows much reduced divergence between human and chimpanzee, suggesting either that this speciation process was indeed complex or that the same regions were under strong selection in the human chimpanzee ancestor.
You may contact the first author (during and after the meeting) at