Conserved nuclear hormone receptors controlling a novel plastic trait target fast-evolving genes expressed in a single cell

Autoři: Bogdan Sieriebriennikov aff001;  Shuai Sun aff001;  James W. Lightfoot aff001;  Hanh Witte aff001;  Eduardo Moreno aff001;  Christian Rödelsperger aff001;  Ralf J. Sommer aff001
Působiště autorů: Department for Integrative Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tübingen, Germany aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: Conserved nuclear hormone receptors controlling a novel plastic trait target fast-evolving genes expressed in a single cell. PLoS Genet 16(4): e1008687. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1008687
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008687


Environment shapes development through a phenomenon called developmental plasticity. Deciphering its genetic basis has potential to shed light on the origin of novel traits and adaptation to environmental change. However, molecular studies are scarce, and little is known about molecular mechanisms associated with plasticity. We investigated the gene regulatory network controlling predatory vs. non-predatory dimorphism in the nematode Pristionchus pacificus and found that it consists of genes of extremely different age classes. We isolated mutants in the conserved nuclear hormone receptor nhr-1 with previously unseen phenotypic effects. They disrupt mouth-form determination and result in animals combining features of both wild-type morphs. In contrast, mutants in another conserved nuclear hormone receptor nhr-40 display altered morph ratios, but no intermediate morphology. Despite divergent modes of control, NHR-1 and NHR-40 share transcriptional targets, which encode extracellular proteins that have no orthologs in Caenorhabditis elegans and result from lineage-specific expansions. An array of transcriptional reporters revealed co-expression of all tested targets in the same pharyngeal gland cell. Major morphological changes in this gland cell accompanied the evolution of teeth and predation, linking rapid gene turnover with morphological innovations. Thus, the origin of feeding plasticity involved novelty at the level of genes, cells and behavior.

Klíčová slova:

Alleles – Caenorhabditis elegans – Evolutionary genetics – Gene regulation – Invertebrate genomics – Phenotypes – Protein domains – Teeth


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