Moretti, C and Blanco, M and Ialy-Radio, C and Serrentino, ME and Gobé,C and Friedman, R and Battail, C and Leduc, M and Ward, MA and Vaiman, Dand Tores, F and Cocquet, J
Transmission distorters (TDs) are genetic elements that favor their own transmission to the detriments of others. Slx/Slxl1 (Sycp3-like-X-linked and Slx-like1) and Sly (Sycp3-like-Y-linked) are TDs which have been co-amplified on the X and Y chromosomes of Mus species. They are involved in an intragenomic conflict in which each favors its own transmission, resulting in sex ratio distortion of the progeny when Slx/Slxl1 vs. Sly copy number is unbalanced. They are specifically expressed in male postmeiotic gametes (spermatids) and have opposite effects on gene expression: Sly knockdown leads to the upregulation of hundreds of spermatid-expressed genes, while Slx/Slxl1-deficiency downregulates them. When both Slx/Slxl1 and Sly are knocked-down, sex ratio distortion and gene deregulation are corrected. Slx/Slxl1 and Sly are, therefore, in competition but the molecular mechanism remains unknown. By comparing their chromatin binding profiles and protein partners, we show that SLX/SLXL1 and SLY proteins compete for interaction with H3K4me3-reader SSTY1 (Spermiogenesis-specific-transcript-on-the-Y1) at the promoter of thousands of genes to drive their expression, and that the opposite effect they have on gene expression is mediated by different abilities to recruit SMRT/N-Cor transcriptional complex. Their target genes are predominantly spermatid-specific multicopy genes encoded by the sex chromosomes and the autosomal Speer/Takusan. Many of them have co-amplified with Slx/Slxl1/Sly but also Ssty during muroid rodent evolution. Overall, we identify Ssty as a key element of the X vs. Y intragenomic conflict, which may have influenced gene content and hybrid sterility beyond Mus lineage since Ssty amplification on the Y pre-dated that of Slx/Slxl1/Sly.