Transcriptome analysis reveals novel patterning and pigmentation genes underlying Heliconius butterfly wing pattern variation

Heather M. Hines, Riccardo Papa, Mayte Ruiz, Alexie Papanicolaou, Charles Wang, H. F. Nijhout, W. O. McMillan, Robert D. Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Heliconius butterfly wing pattern diversity offers a unique opportunity to investigate how natural genetic variation can drive the evolution of complex adaptive phenotypes. Positional cloning and candidate gene studies have identified a handful of regulatory and pigmentation genes implicated in Heliconius wing pattern variation, but little is known about the greater developmental networks within which these genes interact to pattern a wing. Here we took a large-scale transcriptomic approach to identify the network of genes involved in Heliconius wing pattern development and variation. This included applying over 140 transcriptome microarrays to assay gene expression in dissected wing pattern elements across a range of developmental stages and wing pattern morphs of Heliconius erato.Results: We identified a number of putative early prepattern genes with color-pattern related expression domains. We also identified 51 genes differentially expressed in association with natural color pattern variation. Of these, the previously identified color pattern " switch gene" optix was recovered as the first transcript to show color-specific differential expression. Most differentially expressed genes were transcribed late in pupal development and have roles in cuticle formation or pigment synthesis. These include previously undescribed transporter genes associated with ommochrome pigmentation. Furthermore, we observed upregulation of melanin-repressing genes such as ebony and Dat1 in non-melanic patterns.Conclusions: This study identifies many new genes implicated in butterfly wing pattern development and provides a glimpse into the number and types of genes affected by variation in genes that drive color pattern evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number288
JournalBMC genomics
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 29 2012

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Butterflies
Pigmentation
Gene Expression Profiling
Genes
Color
Switch Genes
Gene Regulatory Networks
Melanins
Regulator Genes
Transcriptome
Organism Cloning
Up-Regulation
Phenotype
Gene Expression

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics

Cite this

Hines, Heather M. ; Papa, Riccardo ; Ruiz, Mayte ; Papanicolaou, Alexie ; Wang, Charles ; Nijhout, H. F. ; McMillan, W. O. ; Reed, Robert D. / Transcriptome analysis reveals novel patterning and pigmentation genes underlying Heliconius butterfly wing pattern variation. In: BMC genomics. 2012 ; Vol. 13, No. 1.
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Transcriptome analysis reveals novel patterning and pigmentation genes underlying Heliconius butterfly wing pattern variation. / Hines, Heather M.; Papa, Riccardo; Ruiz, Mayte; Papanicolaou, Alexie; Wang, Charles; Nijhout, H. F.; McMillan, W. O.; Reed, Robert D.

In: BMC genomics, Vol. 13, No. 1, 288, 29.06.2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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