Y-Chromosome Variation in Hominids: Intraspecific Variation Is Limited to the Polygamous Chimpanzee
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Background: We have previously demonstrated that the Y-specific ampliconic fertility genes DAZ (deleted in azoospermia) and CDY (chromodomain protein Y) varied with respect to copy number and position among chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). In comparison, seven Y-chromosomal lineages of the bonobo (Pan paniscus), the chimpanzee’s closest living relative, showed no variation. We extend our earlier comparative investigation to include an analysis of the intraspecific variation of these genes in gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) and orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), and examine the resulting patterns in the light of the species’ markedly different social and mating behaviors. Methodology/Principal Findings: Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis (FISH) of DAZ and CDY in 12 Y-chromosomal lineages of western lowland gorilla (G. gorilla gorilla) and a single lineage of the eastern lowland gorilla (G. beringei graueri) showed no variation among lineages. Similar findings were noted for the 10 Y-chromosomal lineages examined in the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), and 11 Y-chromosomal lineages of the Sumatran orangutan (P. abelii). We validated the contrasting DAZ and CDY patterns using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) in chimpanzee and bonobo. Conclusion/Significance: High intraspecific variation in copy number and position of the DAZ and CDY genes is seen only in the chimpanzee. We hypothesize that this is best explained by sperm competition that results in the variant DAZ and CDY haplotypes detected in this species. In contrast, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans—species that are not subject to sperm competition—showed no intraspecific variation in DAZ and CDY suggesting that monoandry in gorillas, and preferential female mate choice in bonobos and orangutans, probably permitted the fixation of a single Y variant in each taxon. These data support the notion that the evolutionary history of a primate Y chromosome is not simply encrypted in its DNA sequences, but is also shaped by the social and behavioral circumstances under which the specific species has evolved.