Research Article

Evolution of Shape by Multiple Regulatory Changes to a Growth Gene

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Science  24 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6071, pp. 943-947
DOI: 10.1126/science.1215193

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The genetic changes responsible for morphological differences between species are largely unidentified. Such changes can involve modifications of growth that are relevant to understanding evolution, development, and disease. We identified a gene that induces male-specific wing size and shape differences between Nasonia wasp species. Fine-scale mapping and in situ hybridization reveal that changes in at least three regions (two strictly in noncoding sequence) around the gene unpaired-like (upd-like) cause changes in spatial and temporal expression of upd-like in the developing wing and corresponding changes in wing width. Upd-like shows homology to the Drosophila unpaired gene, a well-studied signaling protein that regulates cell proliferation and differentiation. Our results indicate how multiple changes in the regulation of upd-like are involved in microevolution of morphological and sex-specific differences between species.

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