Identification of Parthenogenesis-Inducing Effector Proteins in Wolbachia

Laura C. Fricke, Amelia R.I. Lindsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bacteria in the genus Wolbachia have evolved numerous strategies to manipulate arthropod sex, including the conversion of would-be male offspring to asexually reproducing females. This so-called “parthenogenesis induction” phenotype can be found in a number of Wolbachia strains that infect arthropods with haplodiploid sex determination systems, including parasitoid wasps. Despite the discovery of microbe-mediated parthenogenesis more than 30 yr ago, the underlying genetic mechanisms have remained elusive. We used a suite of genomic, computational, and molecular tools to identify and characterize two proteins that are uniquely found in parthenogenesis-inducing Wolbachia and have strong signatures of host-associated bacterial effector proteins. These putative parthenogenesis-inducing proteins have structural homology to eukaryotic protein domains including nucleoporins, the key insect sex determining factor Transformer, and a eukaryotic-like serine–threonine kinase with leucine-rich repeats. Furthermore, these proteins significantly impact eukaryotic cell biology in the model Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We suggest that these proteins are parthenogenesis-inducing factors and our results indicate that this would be made possible by a novel mechanism of bacterial-host interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberevae036
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution 2024. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • Wolbachia
  • mitosis
  • parasitoid
  • parthenogenesis
  • sex
  • symbiosis

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