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Evolution of an Epigenetic Gene Ensemble within the Genus Anopheles

Jenkins, Adam M., Muskavitch, Marc A.T.
Genome Biology and Evolution 2015 v.7 no.3 pp. 901-915
Anopheles gambiae, Drosophila melanogaster, antagonists, epigenetics, evolution, gene expression, gene expression regulation, genes, homeostasis, malaria, vector control
Epigenetic control of gene expression has important implications for the regulation of developmental processes, for mediating homeostasis and responses to the external environment, and for transgenerational inheritance of gene expression patterns. Genes that mediate epigenetic control have been well-characterized in Drosophila melanogaster , and we have identified and analyzed an orthologous gene ensemble in Anopheles gambiae that comprises 169 orthologs related to a 215-member epigenetic gene ensemble in D. melanogaster . We find that this ensemble is highly conserved among anopheline mosquitoes, as we identify only seven gene family expansion/contraction events within the ensemble among 12 mosquito species we have studied within the genus Anopheles . Comparative analyses of the epigenetic gene expression across the genera Drosophila and Anopheles reveal distinct tissue-associated expression patterns in the two genera, but similar temporal expression patterns. The A. gambiae complex and D. melanogaster subgroup epigenetic gene ensembles exhibit similar evolutionary rates, as assessed by their respective d N /d S values. These differences in tissue-associated expression patterns, in contrast to similarities in evolutionary rates and temporal expression patterns, may imply that some members of the epigenetic gene ensemble have been redeployed within one or both genera, in comparison to the most recent common ancestor of these two clades. Members of this epigenetic gene ensemble may constitute another set of potential targets for vector control and enable further reductions in the burden of human malaria, by analogy to recent success in development of small molecule antagonists for mammalian epigenetic machinery.