Academic journal article Genetics

Evolution of a Distinct Genomic Domain in Drosophila: Comparative Analysis of the Dot Chromosome in Drosophila Melanogaster and Drosophila Virilis

Academic journal article Genetics

Evolution of a Distinct Genomic Domain in Drosophila: Comparative Analysis of the Dot Chromosome in Drosophila Melanogaster and Drosophila Virilis

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The distal arm of the fourth ("dot") chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster is unusual in that it exhibits an amalgamation of heterochromatic properties (e.g., dense packaging, late replication) and euchromatic properties (e.g., gene density similar to euchromatic domains, replication during polytenization). To examine the evolution of this unusual domain, we undertook a comparative study by generating high-quality sequence data and manually curating gene models for the dot chromosome of D. virilis (Tucson strain 15010-1051.88). Our analysis shows that the dot chromosomes of D. melanogaster and D. virilis have higher repeat density, larger gene size, lower codon bias, and a higher rate of gene rearrangement compared to a reference euchromatic domain. Analysis of eight "wanderer" genes (present in a euchromatic chromosome arm in one species and on the dot chromosome in the other) shows that their characteristics are similar to other genes in the same domain, which suggests that these characteristics are features of the domain and are not required for these genes to function. Comparison of this strain of D. virilis with the strain sequenced by the Drosophila 12 Genomes Consortium (Tucson strain 15010-1051.87) indicates that most genes on the dot are under weak purifying selection. Collectively, despite the heterochromatin-like properties of this domain, genes on the dot evolve to maintain function while being responsive to changes in their local environment.

EUKARYOTIC genomes are packaged into two major types of chromatin: euchromatin is gene rich and has a diffuse appearance during interphase, while heterochromatin is gene poor and remains densely packaged throughout the cell cycle (Grewal and Elgin 2002). The distal 1.2 Mb of the fourth chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster, known as the dot chromosomeor Muller F element, is unusual in exhibiting an amalgamation of heterochromatic and euchromatic properties. This domain has a gene density that is similar to the other autosomes (Bartolome et al. 2002; Slawson et al. 2006). However, it appears heterochromatic by many criteria, including late replication and very low levels of meiotic recombination (Wang et al. 2002; Arguello et al. 2010). It exhibits high levels of association with heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1) and histone H3 diand trimethylated at lysine 9 (H3K9me2/3), as shown by immunofluorescent staining of the polytene chromosomes (Riddle and Elgin 2006; Slawson et al. 2006). This association with heterochromatin marks has recently been confirmed by the modENCODE Project [N. C. Riddle, A. Minoda, P. V. Kharchenko, A. A. Alekseyenko, Y. B. Schwartz, M. Y. Tolstorukov, A. A. Gorchakov, C. Kennedy, D. Linder-Basso, J. D. Jaffe, G. Shanower, M. I. Kuroda, V. Pirrotta, P. J. Park, S. C. R. Elgin, G. H. Karpen, and the modENCODE Consortium (http://www.modencode. org), unpublished results]. To understand this unique domain and to examine the evolution of a region with very low levels of recombination, we have undertaken a comparative study using the dot chromosome of D. virilis, a species that diverged from D. melanogaster 40- 60 million years ago (Powell and Desalle 1995). We sequenced and improved the assembly of the D. virilis dot chromosome and created a manually curated set of gene models to ensure that both the assembly and the gene annotations are at a quality comparable to those in D. melanogaster. We then compared the sequence organization and gene characteristics of the distal portion of the D. virilis dot chromosome with the corresponding region from the D. melanogaster dot chromosome.

In addition to examining the long-term dot chromosome evolution, we also investigated the short-term dot chromosome evolution by comparing the genomic sequences from two different strains of D. virilis. Agencourt Biosciences (AB) has previously produced a whole genome shotgun assembly of Tucson strain 15010- 1051.87, while we have sequenced Tucson strain 15010- 1051. …

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