Conserved developmental transcriptomes in evolutionarily divergent species
- Equal contributors
1 Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA
2 Graduate Program in Structural and Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA
3 Graduate Program in Developmental Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA
4 Section of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
5 Faculty of Computer and Information Science, University of Ljubljana, Trzaska cesta 25, SI-1001 Ljubljana, Slovenia
6 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Genome Biology 2010, 11:R35 doi:10.1186/gb-2010-11-3-r35Published: 17 March 2010
Evolutionarily divergent organisms often share developmental anatomies despite vast differences between their genome sequences. The social amoebae Dictyostelium discoideum and Dictyostelium purpureum have similar developmental morphologies although their genomes are as divergent as those of man and jawed fish.
Here we show that the anatomical similarities are accompanied by extensive transcriptome conservation. Using RNA sequencing we compared the abundance and developmental regulation of all the transcripts in the two species. In both species, most genes are developmentally regulated and the greatest expression changes occur during the transition from unicellularity to multicellularity. The developmental regulation of transcription is highly conserved between orthologs in the two species. In addition to timing of expression, the level of mRNA production is also conserved between orthologs and is consistent with the intuitive notion that transcript abundance correlates with the amount of protein required. Furthermore, the conservation of transcriptomes extends to cell-type specific expression.
These findings suggest that developmental programs are remarkably conserved at the transcriptome level, considering the great evolutionary distance between the genomes. Moreover, this transcriptional conservation may be responsible for the similar developmental anatomies of Dictyostelium discoideum and Dictyostelium purpureum.