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  1. Young, or newly evolved, genes arise ubiquitously across the tree of life, and they can rapidly acquire novel functions that influence a diverse array of biological processes. Previous work identified a young regulatory duplicate gene in Drosophila, Zeus that unexpectedly diverged rapidly from its parent, Caf40, an extremely conserved component in the CCR4–NOT machinery in post-transcriptional and post-translational regulation of eukaryotic cells, and took on roles in the male reproductive system. This neofunctionalization was accompanied by differential binding of the Zeus protein to loci throughout the Drosophila melanogaster genome. However, the way in which new DNA-binding proteins acquire and coevolve with their targets in the genome is not understood. Here, by comparing Zeus ChIP-Seq data from D. melanogaster and D. simulans to the ancestral Caf40 binding events from D. yakuba, a species that diverged before the duplication event, we found a dynamic pattern in which Zeus binding rapidly coevolved with a previously unknown DNA motif, which we term Caf40 and Zeus-Associated Motif (CAZAM), under the influence of positive selection. Interestingly, while both copies of Zeus acquired targets at male-biased and testis-specific genes, D. melanogaster and D. simulans proteins have specialized binding on different chromosomes, a pattern echoed in the evolution ofmore »the associated motif. Using CRISPR-Cas9-mediated gene knockout of Zeus and RNA-Seq, we found that Zeus regulated the expression of 661 differentially expressed genes (DEGs). Our results suggest that the evolution of young regulatory genes can be coupled to substantial rewiring of the transcriptional networks into which they integrate, even over short evolutionary timescales. Our results thus uncover dynamic genome-wide evolutionary processes associated with new genes.« less
  2. Abstract

    Gene duplication is increasingly recognized as an important mechanism for the origination of new genes, as revealed by comparative genomic analysis. However, how new duplicate genes contribute to phenotypic evolution remains largely unknown, especially in plants. Here, we identified the new gene EXOV, derived from a partial gene duplication of its parental gene EXOVL in Arabidopsis thaliana. EXOV is a species-specific gene that originated within the last 3.5 million years and shows strong signals of positive selection. Unexpectedly, RNA-sequencing analyses revealed that, despite its young age, EXOV has acquired many novel direct and indirect interactions in which the parental gene does not engage. This observation is consistent with the high, selection-driven substitution rate of its encoded protein, in contrast to the slowly evolving EXOVL, suggesting an important role for EXOV in phenotypic evolution. We observed significant differentiation of morphological changes for all phenotypes assessed in genome-edited and T-DNA insertional single mutants and in double T-DNA insertion mutants in EXOV and EXOVL. We discovered a substantial divergence of phenotypic effects by principal component analyses, suggesting neofunctionalization of the new gene. These results reveal a young gene that plays critical roles in biological processes that underlie morphological evolution in A. thaliana.