Developmental transcriptomes of the sea star, Patiria miniata, illuminate how gene expression changes with evolutionary distance

Tsvia Gildor, Gregory A. Cary, Maya Lalzar, Veronica F. Hinman, Smadar Ben-Tabou de-Leon

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Understanding how changes in developmental gene expression alter morphogenesis is a fundamental problem in development and evolution. A promising approach to address this problem is to compare the developmental transcriptomes between related species. The echinoderm phylum consists of several model species that have significantly contributed to the understanding of gene regulation and evolution. Particularly, the regulatory networks of the sea star, Patiria miniata (P. miniata), have been extensively studied, however developmental transcriptomes for this species were lacking. Here we generated developmental transcriptomes of P. miniata and compared these with those of two sea urchins species. We demonstrate that the conservation of gene expression depends on gene function, cell type and evolutionary distance. With increasing evolutionary distance the interspecies correlations in gene expression decreases. The reduction is more severe in the correlations between morphologically equivalent stages (diagonal elements) than in the correlation between morphologically distinct stages (off-diagonal elements). This could reflect a decrease in the morphological constraints compared to other constraints that shape gene expression at large evolutionary divergence. Within this trend, the interspecies correlations of developmental control genes maintain their diagonality at large evolutionary distance, and peak at the onset of gastrulation, supporting the hourglass model of phylotypic stage conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16201
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

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© 2019, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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