The Neurospora crassa standard oak ridge background exhibits atypically efficient meiotic silencing by unpaired DNA

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G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics


Meiotic silencing by unpaired DNA (MSUD), an RNAi-mediated gene silencing process, is efficient in crosses made in the Neurospora crassa standard Oak Ridge (OR) genetic background. However, MSUD was decidedly less efficient when the OR-derived MSUD testers were crossed with many wild-isolated strains (W), suggesting that either sequence heterozygosity in tester x W crosses suppresses MSUD, or that OR represents the MSUD-conducive extreme in the range of genetic variation in MSUD efficiency. Our results support the latter model. MSUD was less efficient in near-isogenic crosses made in the novel N. crassa B/S1 genetic background, and in N. tetrasperma strain 85. Possibly, in B/S1 and 85, additional regulatory cues, absent from OR, calibrate the MSUD response. A locus in distal chromosome 1R appears to underlie the OR vs. B/S1 difference. Repeat-induced point mutation (RIP) destroys duplicated genes by G:C to A:T mutation of duplicated DNA sequences. Chromosome segment duplications (Dps) dominantly suppress RIP, possibly by titrating out the RIP machinery. In Dp x N crosses, the Dp–borne genes cannot pair properly, hence efficient MSUD, as in OR, silences them and renders the crosses barren. We speculate that the increased productivity engendered by inefficient MSUD enables small duplications to escape RIP.

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