Clusters of temporal discordances reveal distinct embryonic patterning mechanisms in Drosophila and Anopheles

Dmitri Papatsenko, Michael Levine, Yury Goltsev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Evolutionary innovations can be driven by spatial and temporal changes in gene expression. Several such differences have been documented in the embryos of lower and higher Diptera. One example is the reduction of the ancient extraembryonic envelope composed of amnion and serosa as seen in mosquitoes to the single amnioserosa of fruit flies. We used transcriptional datasets collected during the embryonic development of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, to search for whole-genome changes in gene expression underlying differences in their respective embryonic morphologies. We found that many orthologous gene pairs could be clustered based on the presence of coincident discordances in their temporal expression profiles. One such cluster contained genes expressed specifically in the mosquito serosa. As shown previously, this cluster is redeployed later in development at the time of cuticle synthesis. In addition, there is a striking difference in the temporal expression of a subset of maternal genes. Specifically, maternal transcripts that exhibit a sharp reduction at the time of the maternal-zygotic transition in Drosophila display sustained expression in the Anopheles embryo. We propose that gene clustering by local temporal discordance can be used for the de novo identification of the gene batteries underlying morphological diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000584
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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