Research Article

Evolution of Shape by Multiple Regulatory Changes to a Growth Gene

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

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Abstract

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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