Date of this Version
PLoS Biol 9(8): e1001126.
The evolution of heteromorphic sex chromosomes (e.g., XY in males or ZW in females) has repeatedly elicited the evolution of two kinds of chromosome-specific regulation: dosage compensation—the equalization of X chromosome gene expression in males and females— and meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI)—the transcriptional silencing and heterochromatinization of the X during meiosis in the male (or Z in the female) germline. How the X chromosome is regulated in the Drosophila melanogaster male germline is unclear. Here we report three new findings concerning gene expression from the X in Drosophila testes. First, X chromosome-wide dosage compensation appears to be absent from most of the Drosophila male germline. Second, microarray analysis provides no evidence for X chromosome-specific inactivation during meiosis. Third, we confirm the previous discovery that the expression of transgene reporters driven by autosomal spermatogenesis-specific promoters is strongly reduced when inserted on the X chromosome versus the autosomes; but we show that this chromosomal difference in expression is established in premeiotic cells and persists in meiotic cells. The magnitude of the X-autosome difference in transgene expression cannot be explained by the absence of dosage compensation, suggesting that a previously unrecognized mechanism limits expression from the X during spermatogenesis in Drosophila. These findings help to resolve several previously conflicting reports and have implications for patterns of genome evolution and speciation in Drosophila.