Y Chromosome Mediates Ribosomal DNA Silencing and Modulates the Chromatin State in Drosophila
Eickbush, Thomas H.
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CitationZhou, Jun, Timothy B. Sackton, Lene Martinsen, Bernardo Lemos, Thomas H. Eickbush, and Daniel L. Hartl. 2012. Y Chromosome Mediates Ribosomal DNA Silencing and Modulates the Chromatin State in Drosophila. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109, no. 25: 9941–9946.
AbstractAlthough the Drosophila Y chromosome is degenerated, heterochromatic, and contains few genes, increasing evidence suggests that it plays an important role in regulating the expression of numerous autosomal and X-linked genes. Here we use 15 Y chromosomes originating from a single founder 550 generations ago to study the role of the Y chromosome in regulating rRNA gene transcription, position-effect variegation (PEV), and the link among rDNA copy number, global gene expression, and chromatin regulation. Based on patterns of rRNA gene transcription indicated by transcription of the retrotransposon R2 that specifically inserts into the 28S rRNA gene, we show that X-linked rDNA is silenced in males. The silencing of X-linked rDNA expression by the Y chromosome is consistent across populations and independent of genetic background. These Y chromosomes also vary more than threefold in rDNA locus size and cause dramatically different levels of PEV suppression. The degree of suppression is negatively associated with the number and fraction of rDNA units without transposon insertions, but not with total rDNA locus size. Gene expression profiling revealed hundreds of differentially expressed genes among these Y chromosome introgression lines, as well as a divergent global gene expression pattern between the low-PEV and high-PEV flies. Our findings suggest that the Y chromosome is involved in diverse phenomena related to transcriptional regulation including X-linked rDNA silencing and suppression of PEV phenotype. These results further expand our understanding of the role of the Y chromosome in modulating global gene expression, and suggest a link with modifications of the chromatin state.
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