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Mol Biol Evol. 2006 Sep;23(9):1707-14. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

Gene regulation divergence is a major contributor to the evolution of Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities between species of Drosophila.

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  • 1Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

The Dobzhansky-Muller model denotes incompatible gene interactions between diverging populations/species and is recognized as the basis of postzygotic reproductive isolation. Little is known about the molecular nature of such gene interactions. We have carried out comparative gene expression analyses in the testes of 3 closely related species of the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup and their hybrids (all of which are sterile). We show that in hybrids 1) a higher proportion of male-biased genes (i.e., genes with a higher level of expression in males) are underexpressed (or not expressed) compared with non-sex-biased genes, 2) the majority of the underexpressed genes appear to be under stabilizing selection by virtue of showing similar levels of expression in the parental species, and only a small proportion of genes show signs of directional selection, 3) very few of the misexpressed genes are shared between species pairs, suggesting that there may not be a "common" set of "speciation genes," and 4) expression of non-testes-specific genes is observed in the testes of interspecific hybrids, and the number of such genes is positively correlated with divergence time. These results suggest that gene regulation divergence of sex- and reproduction-related genes is a major contributor to the evolution of Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibilities between species of Drosophila.

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