Title

Repeated Morphological Evolution through cis-Regulatory Changes in a Pleiotropic Gene

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-2006

Publication Source

Nature

Abstract

The independent evolution of morphological similarities is widespread. For simple traits, such as overall body colour, repeated transitions by means of mutations in the same gene may be common. However, for more complex traits, the possible genetic paths may be more numerous; the molecular mechanisms underlying their independent origins and the extent to which they are constrained to follow certain genetic paths are largely unknown. Here we show that a male wing pigmentation pattern involved in courtship display has been gained and lost multiple times in a Drosophila clade. Each of the cases we have analysed (two gains and two losses) involved regulatory changes at the pleiotropic pigmentation gene yellow. Losses involved the parallel inactivation of the same cis-regulatory element (CRE), with changes at a few nucleotides sufficient to account for the functional divergence of one element between two sibling species. Surprisingly, two independent gains of wing spots resulted from the co-option of distinct ancestral CREs. These results demonstrate how the functional diversification of the modular CREs of pleiotropic genes contributes to evolutionary novelty and the independent evolution of morphological similarities.

Inclusive pages

1050-1053

ISBN/ISSN

0028-0836

Comments

Permission documentation is on file. Macmillan Publishers is a division of the company Springer Nature.

Publisher

Macmillan Publishers

Volume

440

Peer Reviewed

yes