University of Oulu

Morandin, C, Brendel, VP, Sundström, L, Helanterä, H, Mikheyev, AS. Changes in gene DNA methylation and expression networks accompany caste specialization and age‐related physiological changes in a social insect. Mol Ecol. 2019; 28: 1975– 1993. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.15062

Changes in gene DNA methylation and expression networks accompany caste specialization and age‐related physiological changes in a social insect

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Author: Morandin, Claire1,2,3; Brendel, Volker P.4,5; Sundström, Liselotte1,6;
Organizations: 1Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Environmental and Marine Biology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Åbo Akademi University, Åbo, Finland
3Department of Ecology and Evolution, Biophore, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
4Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
5Department of Computer Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
6Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki, Hanko, Finland
7Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Okinawa, Japan
9Research School of Biology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: embargoed
Persistent link: http://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi-fe2019062521883
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-02-27
Description:

Abstract

Social insects provide systems for studying epigenetic regulation of phenotypes, particularly with respect to differentiation of reproductive and worker castes, which typically arise from a common genetic background. The role of gene expression in caste specialization has been extensively studied, but the role of DNA methylation remains controversial. Here, we perform well replicated, integrated analyses of DNA methylation and gene expression in brains of an ant (Formica exsecta) with distinct female castes using traditional approaches (tests of differential methylation) combined with a novel approach (analysis of co‐expression and co‐methylation networks). We found differences in expression and methylation profiles between workers and queens at different life stages, as well as some overlap between DNA methylation and expression at the functional level. Large portions of the transcriptome and methylome are organized into “modules” of genes, some significantly associated with phenotypic traits of castes and developmental stages. Several gene co‐expression modules are preserved in co‐methylation networks, consistent with possible regulation of caste‐specific gene expression by DNA methylation. Surprisingly, brain co‐expression modules were highly preserved when compared with a previous study that examined whole‐body co‐expression patterns in 16 ant species, suggesting that these modules are evolutionarily conserved and for specific functions in various tissues. Altogether, these results suggest that DNA methylation participates in regulation of caste specialization and age‐related physiological changes in social insects.

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Series: Molecular ecology
ISSN: 0962-1083
ISSN-E: 1365-294X
ISSN-L: 0962-1083
Volume: 28
Issue: 8
DOI: 10.1111/mec.15062
OADOI: https://oadoi.org/10.1111/mec.15062
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Subjects:
Funding: This work was supported by the Otto A. Malmin lahjoitusrahasto grant (to CM), by the Academy of Finland (grant numbers 140990,135970, and 273029 to HH, and 252411, 284666 to the Centre of Excellence in Biological Interactions), by the University of Helsinki, by the Kone Foundation (to HH), by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, and JSPS KAKENHI nos. 24770034 and 25221206 (to ASM) as well as ARC grants DP170100772 and FT160100178 (to ASM). We are grateful to Steve Aird for proofreading the manuscript.
Copyright information: © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Morandin, C, Brendel, VP, Sundström, L, Helanterä, H, Mikheyev, AS. Changes in gene DNA methylation and expression networks accompany caste specialization and age‐related physiological changes in a social insect. Mol Ecol. 2019; 28: 1975– 1993, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.15062. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.