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Investigating the Molecular Genetic Basis of Cytoplasmic Sex Determination Caused by Wolbachia Endosymbionts in Terrestrial Isopods

Laboratoire Ecologie et Biologie des Interactions, Equipe Ecologie Evolution Symbiose, Université de Poitiers, UMR CNRS 7267, Bât. B8, 5 rue Albert Turpin, TSA 51106, 86073 Poitiers CEDEX 9, France
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Genes 2018, 9(6), 290; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes9060290
Received: 29 March 2018 / Revised: 29 May 2018 / Accepted: 5 June 2018 / Published: 8 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Evolutionary Life Cycle of Sex Chromosomes)
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Abstract

In animals, sexual differences between males and females are usually determined by sex chromosomes. Alternatively, sex may also be determined by vertically transmitted intracellular microbial endosymbionts. The best known cytoplasmic sex manipulative endosymbiont is Wolbachia which can, for instance, feminize genetic males into phenotypic females in the terrestrial isopod Armadillidium vulgare. However, the molecular genetic basis of cytoplasmic sex determination is unknown. To identify candidate genes of feminization induced by Wolbachia strain wVulC from A. vulgare, we sequenced the genome of Wolbachia strain wCon from Cylisticus convexus, the most closely related known Wolbachia strain to wVulC that does not induce feminization, and compared it to the wVulC genome. Then, we performed gene expression profiling of the 216 resulting wVulC candidate genes throughout host developmental stages in A. vulgare and the heterologous host C. convexus. We identified a set of 35 feminization candidate genes showing differential expression during host sexual development. Interestingly, 27 of the 35 genes are present in the f element, which is a piece of a feminizing Wolbachia genome horizontally transferred into the nuclear genome of A. vulgare and involved in female sex determination. Assuming that the molecular genetic basis of feminization by Wolbachia and the f element is the same, the 27 genes are candidates for acting as master sex determination genes in A. vulgare females carrying the f element. View Full-Text
Keywords: cytoplasmic sex factor; feminization; sexual development; genome sequencing; gene expression profile; Wolbachia; terrestrial isopods cytoplasmic sex factor; feminization; sexual development; genome sequencing; gene expression profile; Wolbachia; terrestrial isopods
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Badawi, M.; Moumen, B.; Giraud, I.; Grève, P.; Cordaux, R. Investigating the Molecular Genetic Basis of Cytoplasmic Sex Determination Caused by Wolbachia Endosymbionts in Terrestrial Isopods. Genes 2018, 9, 290.

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