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Post-transcriptional Mechanisms Contribute Little to Phenotypic Variation in Snake Venoms.


ABSTRACT: Protein expression is a major link in the genotype-phenotype relationship, and processes affecting protein abundances, such as rates of transcription and translation, could contribute to phenotypic evolution if they generate heritable variation. Recent work has suggested that mRNA abundances do not accurately predict final protein abundances, which would imply that post-transcriptional regulatory processes contribute significantly to phenotypes. Post-transcriptional processes also appear to buffer changes in transcriptional patterns as species diverge, suggesting that the transcriptional changes have little or no effect on the phenotypes undergoing study. We tested for concordance between mRNA and protein expression levels in snake venoms by means of mRNA-seq and quantitative mass spectrometry for 11 snakes representing 10 species, six genera, and three families. In contrast to most previous work, we found high correlations between venom gland transcriptomes and venom proteomes for 10 of our 11 comparisons. We tested for protein-level buffering of transcriptional changes during species divergence by comparing the difference between transcript abundance and protein abundance for three pairs of species and one intraspecific pair. We found no evidence for buffering during divergence of our three species pairs but did find evidence for protein-level buffering for our single intraspecific comparison, suggesting that buffering, if present, was a transient phenomenon in venom divergence. Our results demonstrated that post-transcriptional mechanisms did not contribute significantly to phenotypic evolution in venoms and suggest a more prominent and direct role for cis-regulatory evolution in phenotypic variation, particularly for snake venoms.

SUBMITTER: Rokyta DR 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4632057 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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