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Allele-Specific Transcriptome and Methylome Analysis Reveals Stable Inheritance and Cis-Regulation of DNA Methylation in Nasonia.

By Xu Wang, John H Werren and Andrew G Clark


Gene expression divergence between closely related species could be attributed to both cis- and trans- DNA sequence changes during evolution, but it is unclear how the evolutionary dynamics of epigenetic marks are regulated. In eutherian mammals, biparental DNA methylation marks are erased and reset during gametogenesis, resulting in paternal or maternal imprints, which lead to genomic imprinting. Whether DNA methylation reprogramming exists in insects is not known. Wasps of the genus Nasonia are non-social parasitoids that are emerging as a model for studies of epigenetic processes in insects. In this study, we quantified allele-specific expression and methylation genome-wide in Nasonia vitripennis and Nasonia giraulti and their reciprocal F1 hybrids. No parent-of-origin effect in allelic expression was found for >8,000 covered genes, suggesting a lack of genomic imprinting in adult Nasonia. As we expected, both significant cis- and trans- effects are responsible for the expression divergence between N. vitripennis and N. giraulti. Surprisingly, all 178 differentially methylated genes are also differentially methylated between the two alleles in F1 hybrid offspring, recapitulating the parental methylation status with nearly 100% fidelity, indicating the presence of strong cis-elements driving the target of gene body methylation. In addition, we discovered that total and allele-specific expression are positively correlated with allele-specific methylation in a subset of the differentially methylated genes. The 100% cis-regulation in F1 hybrids suggests the methylation machinery is conserved and DNA methylation is targeted by cis features in Nasonia. The lack of genomic imprinting and parent-of-origin differentially methylated regions in Nasonia, together with the stable inheritance of methylation status between generations, suggests either a cis-regulatory motif for methylation at the DNA level or highly stable inheritance of an epigenetic signal in Nasonia

Topics: Biology (General), QH301-705.5
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002500
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