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The evolution of sex-biased gene expression in the Drosophila brain

By Samuel Khodursky, Nicolas Svetec, Sylvia M. Durkin, Li Zhao

Posted 16 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.14.041624 (published DOI: 10.1101/gr.259069.119)

Genes with sex-biased expression in Drosophila are thought to underlie sexually dimorphic phenotypes and have been shown to possess important evolutionary properties. However, the forces and constraints governing the evolution of sex-biased genes in the somatic tissues of Drosophila are largely unknown. Using population-scale RNA sequencing data we show that sex-biased genes in the Drosophila brain are highly enriched on the X Chromosome and that most are biased in a species-specific manner. We show that X-linked male-biased genes, and to a lesser extent female-biased genes, are enriched for signatures of directional selection at the gene expression level. By examining the evolutionary properties of gene flanking regions on the X Chromosome, we find evidence that adaptive cis-regulatory changes are more likely to drive the expression evolution of X-linked male-biased genes than other X-linked genes. Finally, we examine whether constraint due to broad expression across multiple tissues and genetic constraint due to the largely shared male and female genomes could be responsible for the observed patterns of gene expression evolution. We find that expression breadth does not constrain the directional evolution of gene expression in the brain. Additionally, we find that the shared genome between males and females imposes a substantial constraint on the expression evolution of sex-biased genes. Overall, these results significantly advance our understanding of the patterns and forces shaping the evolution of sexual dimorphism in the Drosophila brain. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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