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BMC Genomics. 2018 Dec 10;19(1):893. doi: 10.1186/s12864-018-5308-3.

Perturbation of IIS/TOR signaling alters the landscape of sex-differential gene expression in Drosophila.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, 101 Rouse Life Sciences building, Auburn, AL, 36849-5407, USA. rmgraze@auburn.edu.
2
Biomedical Sciences Department, Florida State University, College of Medicine, 1115 West Call Street, Tallahassee, FL, 32306, USA.
3
Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, 101 Rouse Life Sciences building, Auburn, AL, 36849-5407, USA.
4
Biomedical Sciences Department, Florida State University, College of Medicine, 1115 West Call Street, Tallahassee, FL, 32306, USA. michelle.arbeitman@med.fsu.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The core functions of the insulin/insulin-like signaling and target of rapamycin (IIS/TOR) pathway are nutrient sensing, energy homeostasis, growth, and regulation of stress responses. This pathway is also known to interact directly and indirectly with the sex determination regulatory hierarchy. The IIS/TOR pathway plays a role in directing sexually dimorphic traits, including dimorphism of growth, metabolism, stress and behavior. Previous studies of sexually dimorphic gene expression in the adult head, which includes both nervous system and endocrine tissues, have revealed variation in sex-differential expression, depending in part on genotype and environment. To understand the degree to which the environmentally responsive insulin signaling pathway contributes to sexual dimorphism of gene expression, we examined the effect of perturbation of the pathway on gene expression in male and female Drosophila heads.

RESULTS:

Our data reveal a large effect of insulin signaling on gene expression, with greater than 50% of genes examined changing expression. Males and females have a shared gene expression response to knock-down of InR function, with significant enrichment for pathways involved in metabolism. Perturbation of insulin signaling has a greater impact on gene expression in males, with more genes changing expression and with gene expression differences of larger magnitude. Primarily as a consequence of the response in males, we find that reduced insulin signaling results in a striking increase in sex-differential expression. This includes sex-differences in expression of immune, defense and stress response genes, genes involved in modulating reproductive behavior, genes linking insulin signaling and ageing, and in the insulin signaling pathway itself.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results demonstrate that perturbation of insulin signaling results in thousands of genes displaying sex differences in expression that are not differentially expressed in control conditions. Thus, insulin signaling may play a role in variability of somatic, sex-differential expression. The finding that perturbation of the IIS/TOR pathway results in an altered landscape of sex-differential expression suggests a role of insulin signaling in the physiological underpinnings of trade-offs, sexual conflict and sex differences in expression variability.

KEYWORDS:

Drosophila; Gene expression; Insulin signaling; RNA-seq; Sex bias; Sexual dimorphism

PMID:
30526477
PMCID:
PMC6288939
DOI:
10.1186/s12864-018-5308-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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