2020 journal article

Age and Genetic Background Modify Hybrid Male Sterility in House Mice

GENETICS, 216(2), 585–597.

By: S. Widmayer, M. Handel* & D. Aylor

author keywords: hybrid male sterility; aging; genetic background; spermatogenesis; mouse
Source: Web Of Science
Added: November 2, 2020

Abstract Hybrid male sterility (HMS) contributes to reproductive isolation commonly observed among house mouse (Mus musculus) subspecies, both in the wild and in laboratory crosses. Incompatibilities involving specific Prdm9 alleles and certain Chromosome (Chr) X genotypes are known determinants of fertility and HMS, and previous work in the field has demonstrated that genetic background modifies these two major loci. We constructed hybrids that have identical genotypes at Prdm9 and identical X chromosomes, but differ widely across the rest of the genome. In each case, we crossed female PWK/PhJ mice representative of the M. m. musculus subspecies to males from a classical inbred strain representative of M. m. domesticus: 129S1/SvImJ, A/J, C57BL/6J, or DBA/2J. We detected three distinct trajectories of fertility among the hybrids using breeding experiments. The PWK129S1 males were always infertile. PWKDBA2 males were fertile, despite their genotypes at the major HMS loci. We also observed age-dependent changes in fertility parameters across multiple genetic backgrounds. The PWKB6 and PWKAJ males were always infertile before 12 weeks and after 35 weeks. However, some PWKB6 and PWKAJ males were transiently fertile between 12 and 35 weeks. This observation could resolve previous contradictory reports about the fertility of PWKB6. Taken together, these results point to multiple segregating HMS modifier alleles, some of which have age-related modes of action. The ultimate identification of these alleles and their age-related mechanisms will advance understanding both of the genetic architecture of HMS and of how reproductive barriers are maintained between house mouse subspecies.