A suppressor of a <i>wtf</i> poison-antidote meiotic driver acts via mimicry of the driver’s antidote

by María Angélica Bravo Núñez, Jeffrey J. Lange, Zanders E. Sarah

Meiotic drivers are selfish alleles that subvert gametogenesis to increase their transmission into progeny. Drivers impose a fitness cost, putting pressure on the genome to evolve suppressors. Here we investigate the wtf gene family from Schizosaccharomyces pombe, previously shown to contain meiotic drivers in wild isolates. We discovered that wtf13 found in lab stocks is a meiotic driver. wtf13 kills spores that do not inherit it by generating both a diffusible poison and a spore-specific antidote. Additionally, we demonstrate that wtf13 is suppressed by another wtf gene, wtf18-2, that arose spontaneously in the lab and makes only an antidote. Wtf18-2 does not act indiscriminately to prevent spore destruction. Instead, it rescues only the spores that inherit wtf18-2. In this way, wtf18-2 selfishly gains a transmission advantage of its own while dampening the drive of wtf13. This establishes a novel paradigm for meiotic drive suppressors and provides insight into the mechanisms and evolution of drive systems.

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