Distinct epigenomic and transcriptomic modifications associated with Wolbachia-mediated asexuality

Autoři: Xin Wu aff001;  Amelia R. I. Lindsey aff002;  Paramita Chatterjee aff001;  John H. Werren aff004;  Richard Stouthamer aff002;  Soojin V. Yi aff001
Působiště autorů: School of Biological Sciences, Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America aff001;  Department of Entomology, University of California Riverside, Riverside, California, United States of America aff002;  Current Address: Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, United States of America aff003;  Department of Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, United States of America aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: Distinct epigenomic and transcriptomic modifications associated with Wolbachia-mediated asexuality. PLoS Pathog 16(3): e1008397. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1008397
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008397


Wolbachia are maternally transmitted intracellular bacteria that induce a range of pathogenic and fitness-altering effects on insect and nematode hosts. In parasitoid wasps of the genus Trichogramma, Wolbachia infection induces asexual production of females, thus increasing transmission of Wolbachia. It has been hypothesized that Wolbachia infection accompanies a modification of the host epigenome. However, to date, data on genome-wide epigenomic changes associated with Wolbachia are limited, and are often confounded by background genetic differences. Here, we took sexually reproducing Trichogramma free of Wolbachia and introgressed their genome into a Wolbachia-infected cytoplasm, converting them to Wolbachia-mediated asexuality. Wolbachia was then cured from replicates of these introgressed lines, allowing us to examine the genome-wide effects of wasps newly converted to asexual reproduction while controlling for genetic background. We thus identified gene expression and DNA methylation changes associated with Wolbachia-infection. We found no overlaps between differentially expressed genes and differentially methylated genes, indicating that Wolbachia-infection associated DNA methylation change does not directly modulate levels of gene expression. Furthermore, genes affected by these mechanisms exhibit distinct evolutionary histories. Genes differentially methylated due to the infection tended to be evolutionarily conserved. In contrast, differentially expressed genes were significantly more likely to be unique to the Trichogramma lineage, suggesting host-specific transcriptomic responses to infection. Nevertheless, we identified several novel aspects of Wolbachia-associated DNA methylation changes. Differentially methylated genes included those involved in oocyte development and chromosome segregation. Interestingly, Wolbachia-infection was associated with higher levels of DNA methylation. Additionally, Wolbachia infection reduced overall variability in gene expression, even after accounting for the effect of DNA methylation. We also identified specific cases where alternative exon usage was associated with DNA methylation changes due to Wolbachia infection. These results begin to reveal distinct genes and molecular pathways subject to Wolbachia induced epigenetic modification and/or host responses to Wolbachia-infection.

Klíčová slova:

DNA methylation – Drosophila melanogaster – Gene expression – Genome analysis – Introgression – Invertebrate genomics – Transcriptome analysis – Wolbachia


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