Intragenomic Conflict Between the Two Major Knob Repeats of Maize
Lisa B. Kanizay, Patrice S. Albert, James A. Birchler, R. Kelly Dawe


Examples of meiotic drive, the non-Mendelian segregation of a specific genomic region, have been identified in several eukaryotic species. Maize contains the abnormal chromosome 10 (Ab10) drive system that transforms typically inert heterochromatic knobs into centromere-like domains (neocentromeres) that move rapidly poleward along the spindle during meiosis. Knobs can be made of two different tandem repeat sequences (TR-1 and 180-bp repeat), and both repeats have become widespread in Zea species. Here we describe detailed studies of a large knob on chromosome 10 called K10L2. We show that the knob is composed entirely of the TR-1 repeat and is linked to a strong activator of TR-1 neocentromere activity. K10L2 shows weak meiotic drive when paired with N10 but significantly reduces the meiotic drive exhibited by Ab10 (types I or II) in Ab10/K10L2 heterozygotes. These and other data confirm that 1) there are two separate and independent neocentromere activities in maize, 2) that both the TR-1 and knob 180 repeats exhibit meiotic drive (in the presence of other drive genes), and 3) that the two repeats can operate in competition with each other. Our results support the general concept that tandem repeat arrays can engage in arms-race like struggles and proliferate as an outcome.

  • Received December 18, 2012.
  • Accepted February 18, 2013.