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Mol Biol Evol. 2014 Aug;31(8):2032-41. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu146. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

A small system--high-resolution study of metabolic adaptation in the central metabolic pathway to temperate climates in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University.
Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania.
Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University


In this article, we couple the geographic variation in 127 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) frequencies in genes of 46 enzymes of central metabolism with their associated cis-expression variation to predict latitudinal or climatic-driven gene expression changes in the metabolic architecture of Drosophila melanogaster. Forty-two percent of the SNPs in 65% of the genes show statistically significant clines in frequency with latitude across the 20 local population samples collected from southern Florida to Ontario. A number of SNPs in the screened genes are also associated with significant expression variation within the Raleigh population from North Carolina. A principal component analysis of the full variance-covariance matrix of latitudinal changes in SNP-associated standardized gene expression allows us to identify those major genes in the pathway and its associated branches that are likely targets of natural selection. When embedded in a central metabolic context, we show that these apparent targets are concentrated in the genes of the upper glycolytic pathway and pentose shunt, those controlling glycerol shuttle activity, and finally those enzymes associated with the utilization of glutamate and pyruvate. These metabolites possess high connectivity and thus may be the points where flux balance can be best shifted. We also propose that these points are conserved points associated with coupling energy homeostasis and energy sensing in mammals. We speculate that the modulation of gene expression at specific points in central metabolism that are associated with shifting flux balance or possibly energy-state sensing plays a role in adaptation to climatic variation.


clines; energy sensing; gene expression variation; life history; metabolism

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