An evolutionary perspective enhances our understanding of biological mechanisms. Comparison of sex determination and X-chromosome dosage compensation mechanisms between the closely related nematode species C. briggsae (Cbr) and C. elegans (Cel) revealed that the genetic regulatory hierarchy controlling both processes is conserved, but the X-chromosome target specificity and mode of binding for the specialized condensin dosage compensation complex (DCC) controlling X expression have diverged. We identified two motifs within Cbr DCC recruitment sites that are highly enriched on X: 13-bp MEX and 30-bp MEX II. Mutating either MEX or MEX II in an endogenous recruitment site with multiple copies of one or both motifs reduced binding, but only removing all motifs eliminated binding in vivo. Hence, DCC binding to Cbr recruitment sites appears additive. In contrast, DCC binding to Cel recruitment sites is synergistic: mutating even one motif in vivo eliminated binding. Although all X-chromosome motifs share the sequence CAGGG, they have otherwise diverged so that a motif from one species cannot function in the other. Functional divergence was demonstrated in vivo and in vitro. A single nucleotide position in Cbr MEX can determine whether Cel DCC binds. This rapid divergence of DCC target specificity could have been an important factor in establishing reproductive isolation between nematode species and contrasts dramatically with conservation of target specificity for X-chromosome dosage compensation across Drosophila species and for transcription factors controlling developmental processes such as body-plan specification from fruit flies to mice.
GEO GSE214714 is the accession number for the ChIP-seq data reported in this manuscript.
Caenorhabditis briggsae SDC-2 and DPY-27 ChIP-seqNCBI Gene Expression Omnibus, GSE214714.
- Barbara J Meyer
- Barbara J Meyer
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Luisa Cochella, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, United States
© 2023, Yang et al.
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Primate evolution has led to a remarkable diversity of behavioral specializations and pronounced brain size variation among species (Barton, 2012; DeCasien and Higham, 2019; Powell et al., 2017). Gene expression provides a promising opportunity for studying the molecular basis of brain evolution, but it has been explored in very few primate species to date (e.g. Khaitovich et al., 2005; Khrameeva et al., 2020; Ma et al., 2022; Somel et al., 2009). To understand the landscape of gene expression evolution across the primate lineage, we generated and analyzed RNA-seq data from four brain regions in an unprecedented eighteen species. Here, we show a remarkable level of variation in gene expression among hominid species, including humans and chimpanzees, despite their relatively recent divergence time from other primates. We found that individual genes display a wide range of expression dynamics across evolutionary time reflective of the diverse selection pressures acting on genes within primate brain tissue. Using our samples that represent a 190-fold difference in primate brain size, we identified genes with variation in expression most correlated with brain size. Our study extensively broadens the phylogenetic context of what is known about the molecular evolution of the brain across primates and identifies novel candidate genes for the study of genetic regulation of brain evolution.
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