Send to

Choose Destination
Genome Res. 2017 May;27(5):686-696. doi: 10.1101/gr.213595.116. Epub 2017 Jan 30.

Improved genome assembly of American alligator genome reveals conserved architecture of estrogen signaling.

Author information

Department of Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.
Department of Biology, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota 56301, USA.
Driver Group, LLC, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.
BioTuring, Incorporated, San Diego, California 92121, USA.
Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.
Dovetail Genomics, LLC, Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409, USA.
Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762, USA.
School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA.
Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.
HCM University of Science, Ho Chí Minh, Vietnam 748500.
Department of Animal and Food Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19717, USA.
Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.
Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Marine Biomedicine and Environmental Science Center, Hollings Marine Laboratory, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA.


The American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, like all crocodilians, has temperature-dependent sex determination, in which the sex of an embryo is determined by the incubation temperature of the egg during a critical period of development. The lack of genetic differences between male and female alligators leaves open the question of how the genes responsible for sex determination and differentiation are regulated. Insight into this question comes from the fact that exposing an embryo incubated at male-producing temperature to estrogen causes it to develop ovaries. Because estrogen response elements are known to regulate genes over long distances, a contiguous genome assembly is crucial for predicting and understanding their impact. We present an improved assembly of the American alligator genome, scaffolded with in vitro proximity ligation (Chicago) data. We use this assembly to scaffold two other crocodilian genomes based on synteny. We perform RNA sequencing of tissues from American alligator embryos to find genes that are differentially expressed between embryos incubated at male- versus female-producing temperature. Finally, we use the improved contiguity of our assembly along with the current model of CTCF-mediated chromatin looping to predict regions of the genome likely to contain estrogen-responsive genes. We find that these regions are significantly enriched for genes with female-biased expression in developing gonads after the critical period during which sex is determined by incubation temperature. We thus conclude that estrogen signaling is a major driver of female-biased gene expression in the post-temperature sensitive period gonads.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center