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Cooper, Jacob Carter; Lukacs, Andrea; Reich, Shelley; Schauer, Tamas; Imhof, Axel; Phadnis, Nitin (2019): Altered Localization of Hybrid Incompatibility Proteins in Drosophila. In: Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol. 36, No. 8: pp. 1783-1792
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Understanding the molecular basis of hybrid incompatibilities is a fundamental pursuit in evolutionary genetics. In crosses between Drosophila melanogaster females and Drosophila simulans males, an interaction between at least three genes is necessary for hybrid male lethality: Hmr(mei), Lhr(sim), and gfzf(sim). Although HMR and LHR physically bind each other and function together in a single complex, the connection between gfzf and either of these proteins remains mysterious. Here, we show that GFZF localizes to many regions of the genome in both D. melanogaster and D. simulans, including at telomeric retrotransposon repeats. We find that GFZF localization at telomeres is significantly different between these two species, reflecting the rapid evolution of telomeric retrotransposon copy number composition between the two species. Next, we show that GFZF and HMR normally do not colocalize in D. melanogaster. In interspecies hybrids, however, HMR shows extensive mis-localization to GFZF sites, thus uncovering a new molecular interaction between these hybrid incompatibility factors. We find that spreading of HMR to GFZF sites requires gfzf(sim) but not Lhr(sim), suggesting distinct roles for these factors in the hybrid incompatibility. Finally, we find that overexpression of HMR and LHR within species is sufficient to mis-localize HMR to GFZF binding sites, indicating that HMR has a natural low affinity for GFZF sites. Together, these studies provide the first insights into the different properties of gfzf between D. melanogaster and D. simulans, and uncover a molecular interaction between gfzf and Hmr in the form of altered protein localization.