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Bumblebee workers show differences in allele-specific DNA methylation and allele-specific expression.

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-03-18, 12:36 authored by H Marshall, ARC Jones, ZN Lonsdale, EB Mallon
Allele-specific expression is when one allele of a gene shows higher levels of expression compared to the other allele, in a diploid organism. Recent work has identified allele-specific expression in a number of Hymenopteran species. However, the molecular mechanism which drives this allelic expression bias remains unknown. In mammals DNA methylation is often associated with genes which show allele-specific expression. DNA methylation systems have been described in species of Hymenoptera, providing a candidate mechanism. Using previously generated RNA-Seq and whole genome bisulfite sequencing from reproductive and sterile bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) workers we have identified genome-wide allele-specific expression and allele-specific DNA methylation. The majority of genes displaying allele-specific expression are common between reproductive and sterile workers and the proportion of allele-specific expression bias generally varies between genetically distinct colonies. We have also identified genome-wide allele-specific DNA methylation patterns in both reproductive and sterile workers, with reproductive workers showing significantly more genes with allele-specific methylation. Finally, there is no significant overlap between genes showing allele-specific expression and allele-specific methylation. These results indicate that cis-acting DNA methylation does not directly drive genome-wide allele-specific expression in this species.

Funding

Natural Environment Research Council (Grant No. NE/N010019/1)

H.M. was supported by a NERC CENTA DTP studentship

A.R.C.J. and Z.N.L. were supported by BBSRC MIBTP DTP studentships

History

Citation

Genome Biology and Evolution, Volume 12, Issue 8, August 2020, Pages 1471–1481, https://doi.org/10.1093/gbe/evaa132

Author affiliation

Department of Genetics and Genome Biology

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Genome Biology and Evolution

Volume

12

Issue

8

Pagination

1471-1481

Publisher

Oxford University Press

issn

1759-6653

eissn

1759-6653

Acceptance date

2020-05-18

Copyright date

2020

Available date

2021-03-18

Spatial coverage

England

Language

eng

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