On the Origin of t Chromosomes
The t chromosomes are the curse of wild mice. Some of the mutant genes they carry serve no apparent purpose except that of propagating themselves and disseminating through the population — superb examples of selfish DNA. They may have prevailed on the population long before a house mouse became a house mouse and they will most likely hold fast on it until this species becomes extinct. The two reasons for the perseverance of t chromosomes in wild mouse populations are the ability to sway their own transmission into the progeny of male parents strongly in their favor and the power to keep the genetic elements responsible for this segregation distortion together by the suppression of crossing-over in a kind of “frozen linkage group”. All other characteristics of the t chromosomes (male sterility, lethality, influence on embryonic development, omnipresence in natural populations; for review see Klein 1975) are probably secondary tack-ons to these primary qualities; they are inconsequential for the conquest of the population by selfish DNA.
KeywordsSegregation Distortion House Mouse Secondary Branch Major Histocompatibility Complex Gene Wild Mouse
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