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- Leah F. Rosin
- Yang Chen
- Elissa P Lei
Interphase chromatin is organized precisely to facilitate accurate gene expression. The structure-function relationship of chromatin is epitomized in sex chromosome dosage compensation (DC), where sex-linked gene expression is balanced between males and females via sex-specific alterations to 3D chromosome structure. Studies in ZW-bearing species suggest that DC is absent or incomplete in most lineages except butterflies and moths, where male (ZZ) chZ expression is reduced by half to equal females (ZW). However, whether one chZ is inactivated (as in mammals) or both are partially repressed (as in C. elegans) is unknown. Using Oligopaints in the silkworm, Bombyx mori, we visualize autosome and chZ organization in somatic cells from both sexes for the first time. We find that B. mori interphase chromosomes are highly compact relative to Drosophila chromosomes. Importantly, we show that in B. mori males, both chZs are similar in size and shape and are more compact than autosomes or the female chZ after DC establishment, suggesting that both male chZs are partially and equally downregulated. We also find that in the early stages of DC, the female chZ repositions toward the nuclear center concomitant with increased Z-linked gene expression, revealing the first non-sequencing-based support for Ohno's hypothesis. These studies represent the first visualization of interphase genome organization and chZ structure in Lepidoptera. We uncover striking similarities between DC in B. mori and C. elegans, despite these lineages harboring evolutionarily distinct sex chromosomes (ZW/XY), suggesting convergent evolution of DC mechanisms and a possible role for holocentricity in DC evolution.