Functional roles of Aves class-specific cis-regulatory elements on macroevolution of bird-specific features

Ryohei Seki, Cai Li, Qi Fang, Shinichi Hayashi, Shiro Egawa, Jiang Hu, Luohao Xu, Hailin Pan, Mao Kondo, Tomohiko Sato, Haruka Matsubara, Namiko Kamiyama, Keiichi Kitajima, Daisuke Saito, Yang Liu, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Qi Zhou, Xing Xu, Toshihiko Shiroishi, Naoki IrieKoji Tamura, Guojie Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Unlike microevolutionary processes, little is known about the genetic basis of macroevolutionary processes. One of these magnificent examples is the transition from non-avian dinosaurs to birds that has created numerous evolutionary innovations such as self-powered flight and its associated wings with flight feathers. By analysing 48 bird genomes, we identified millions of avian-specific highly conserved elements (ASHCEs) that predominantly (>99%) reside in non-coding regions. Many ASHCEs show differential histone modifications that may participate in regulation of limb development. Comparative embryonic gene expression analyses across tetrapod species suggest ASHCE-associated genes have unique roles in developing avian limbs. In particular, we demonstrate how the ASHCE driven avian-specific expression of gene Sim1 driven by ASHCE may be associated with the evolution and development of flight feathers. Together, these findings demonstrate regulatory roles of ASHCEs in the creation of avian-specific traits, and further highlight the importance of cis-regulatory rewiring during macroevolutionary changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14229
JournalNature communications
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 6 2017
Externally publishedYes

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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