The roles of cis- and trans-regulation in the evolution of regulatory incompatibilities and sexually dimorphic gene expression

Colin D. Meiklejohn, Joseph D. Coolon, Daniel L. Hartl, Patricia J. Wittkopp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Evolutionary changes in gene expression underlie many aspects of phenotypic diversity within and among species. Understanding the genetic basis for evolved changes in gene expression is therefore an important component of a comprehensive understanding of the genetic basis of phenotypic evolution. Using interspecific introgression hybrids, we examined the genetic basis for divergence in genome-wide patterns of gene expression between Drosophila simulans and Drosophila mauritiana. We find that cis-regulatory and trans-regulatory divergences differ significantly in patterns of genetic architecture and evolution. The effects of cis-regulatory divergence are approximately additive in heterozygotes, quantitatively different between males and females, and well predicted by expression differences between the two parental species. In contrast, the effects of trans-regulatory divergence are associated with largely dominant introgressed alleles, have similar effects in the two sexes, and generate expression levels in hybrids outside the range of expression in both parental species. Although the effects of introgressed trans-regulatory alleles are similar in males and females, expression levels of the genes they regulate are sexually dimorphic between the parental D. simulans and D. mauritiana strains, suggesting that purespecies genotypes carry unlinked modifier alleles that increase sexual dimorphism in expression. Our results suggest that independent effects of cis-regulatory substitutions in males and females may favor their role in the evolution of sexually dimorphic phenotypes, and that trans-regulatory divergence is an important source of regulatory incompatibilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-95
Number of pages12
JournalGenome Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


Dive into the research topics of 'The roles of cis- and trans-regulation in the evolution of regulatory incompatibilities and sexually dimorphic gene expression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this