Genomics of natural populations: How differentially expressed genes shape the evolution of chromosomal inversions in Drosophila pseudoobscura

Zachary L. Fuller, Gwilym D. Haynes, Stephen Richards, Stephen W. Schaeffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Chromosomal rearrangements can shape the structure of genetic variation in the genome directly through alteration of genes at breakpoints or indirectly by holding combinations of genetic variants together due to reduced recombination. The third chromosome of Drosophila pseudoobscura is a model system to test hypotheses about how rearrangements are established in populations because its third chromosome is polymorphic for >30 gene arrangements that were generated by a series of overlapping inversion mutations. Circumstantial evidence has suggested that these gene arrangements are selected. Despite the expected homogenizing effects of extensive gene flow, the frequencies of arrangements form gradients or clines in nature, which have been stable since the system was first described >80 years ago. Furthermore, multiple arrangements exist at appreciable frequencies across several ecological niches providing the opportunity for heterokaryotypes to form. In this study, we tested whether genes are differentially expressed among chromosome arrangements in first instar larvae, adult females and males. In addition, we asked whether transcriptional patterns in heterokaryotypes are dominant, semidominant, overdominant, or underdominant. We find evidence for a significant abundance of differentially expressed genes across the inverted regions of the third chromosome, including an enrichment of genes involved in sensory perception for males. We find the majority of loci show additivity in heterokaryotypes. Our results suggest that multiple genes have expression differences among arrangements that were either captured by the original inversion mutation or accumulated after it reached polymorphic frequencies, providing a potential source of genetic variation for selection to act upon. These data suggest that the inversions are favored because of their indirect effect of recombination suppression that has held different combinations of differentially expressed genes together in the various gene arrangement backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-301
Number of pages15
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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