Incompatibility Between X Chromosome Factor and Pericentric Heterochromatic Region Causes Lethality in Hybrids Between Drosophila melanogaster and Its Sibling Species
M. Victoria Cattani, Daven C. Presgraves


The Dobzhansky–Muller model posits that postzygotic reproductive isolation results from the evolution of incompatible epistatic interactions between species: alleles that function in the genetic background of one species can cause sterility or lethality in the genetic background of another species. Progress in identifying and characterizing factors involved in postzygotic isolation in Drosophila has remained slow, mainly because Drosophila melanogaster, with all of its genetic tools, forms dead or sterile hybrids when crossed to its sister species, D. simulans, D. sechellia, and D. mauritiana. To circumvent this problem, we used chromosome deletions and duplications from D. melanogaster to map two hybrid incompatibility loci in F1 hybrids with its sister species. We mapped a recessive factor to the pericentromeric heterochromatin of the X chromosome in D. simulans and D. mauritiana, which we call heterochromatin hybrid lethal (hhl), which causes lethality in F1 hybrid females with D. melanogaster. As F1 hybrid males hemizygous for a D. mauritiana (or D. simulans) X chromosome are viable, the lethality of deficiency hybrid females implies that a dominant incompatible partner locus exists on the D. melanogaster X. Using small segments of the D. melanogaster X chromosome duplicated onto the Y chromosome, we mapped a dominant factor that causes hybrid lethality to a small 24-gene region of the D. melanogaster X. We provide evidence suggesting that it interacts with hhlmau. The location of hhl is consistent with the emerging theme that hybrid incompatibilities in Drosophila involve heterochromatic regions and factors that interact with the heterochromatin.

  • Received February 14, 2012.
  • Accepted March 6, 2012.
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