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PLoS Genet. 2014 Feb 6;10(2):e1004077. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004077. eCollection 2014 Feb.

Comparative RNAi screens in C. elegans and C. briggsae reveal the impact of developmental system drift on gene function.

Author information

1
The Donnelly Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada ; Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, United States of America.

Abstract

Although two related species may have extremely similar phenotypes, the genetic networks underpinning this conserved biology may have diverged substantially since they last shared a common ancestor. This is termed Developmental System Drift (DSD) and reflects the plasticity of genetic networks. One consequence of DSD is that some orthologous genes will have evolved different in vivo functions in two such phenotypically similar, related species and will therefore have different loss of function phenotypes. Here we report an RNAi screen in C. elegans and C. briggsae to identify such cases. We screened 1333 genes in both species and identified 91 orthologues that have different RNAi phenotypes. Intriguingly, we find that recently evolved genes of unknown function have the fastest evolving in vivo functions and, in several cases, we identify the molecular events driving these changes. We thus find that DSD has a major impact on the evolution of gene function and we anticipate that the C. briggsae RNAi library reported here will drive future studies on comparative functional genomics screens in these nematodes.

PMID:
24516395
PMCID:
PMC3916228
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1004077
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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