Author(s): Bizzarri M, Giudici P, Cassanelli S, Solieri L
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Abstract Allodiploidization is a fundamental yet evolutionarily poorly characterized event, which impacts genome evolution and heredity, controlling organismal development and polyploid cell-types. In this study, we investigated the sex determination system in the allodiploid and sterile ATCC 42981 yeast, a member of the Zygosaccharomyces rouxii species complex, and used it to study how a chimeric mating-type gene repertoire contributes to hybrid reproductive isolation. We found that ATCC 42981 has 7 MAT-like (MTL) loci, 3 of which encode α-idiomorph and 4 encode a-idiomorph. Two phylogenetically divergent MAT expression loci were identified on different chromosomes, accounting for a hybrid a/α genotype. Furthermore, extra a-idimorph-encoding loci (termed MTLa copies 1 to 3) were recognized, which shared the same MATa1 ORFs but diverged for MATa2 genes. Each MAT expression locus was linked to a HML silent cassette, while the corresponding HMR loci were located on another chromosome. Two putative parental sex chromosome pairs contributed to this unusual genomic architecture: one came from an as-yet-undescribed taxon, which has the NCYC 3042 strain as a unique representative, while the other did not match any MAT-HML and HMR organizations previously described in Z. rouxii species. This chimeric rearrangement produces two copies of the HO gene, which encode for putatively functional endonucleases essential for mating-type switching. Although both a and α coding sequences, which are required to obtain a functional cell-type a1-α2 regulator, were present in the allodiploid ATCC 42981 genome, the transcriptional circuit, which regulates entry into meiosis in response to meiosis-inducing salt stress, appeared to be turned off. Furthermore, haploid and α-specific genes, such as MATα1 and HO, were observed to be actively transcribed and up-regulated under hypersaline stress. Overall, these evidences demonstrate that ATCC 42981 is unable to repress haploid α-specific genes and to activate meiosis in response to stress. We argue that sequence divergence within the chimeric a1-α2 heterodimer could be involved in the generation of negative epistasis, contributing to the allodiploid sterility and the dysregulation of cell identity.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Fungal Genomics & Biology