Chromatin regulators as capacitors of interspecies variations in gene expression

Mol Syst Biol. 2010 Nov 30;6:435. doi: 10.1038/msb.2010.84.


Gene expression varies widely between closely related species and strains, yet the genetic basis of most differences is still unknown. Several studies suggested that chromatin regulators have a key role in generating expression diversity, predicting a reduction in the interspecies differences on deletion of genes that influence chromatin structure or modifications. To examine this, we compared the genome-wide expression profiles of two closely related yeast species following the individual deletions of eight chromatin regulators and one transcription factor. In all cases, regulator deletions increased, rather than decreased, the expression differences between the species, revealing hidden genetic variability that was masked in the wild-type backgrounds. This effect was not observed for individual deletions of 11 enzymes involved in central metabolic pathways. The buffered variations were associated with trans differences, as revealed by allele-specific profiling of the interspecific hybrids. Our results support the idea that regulatory proteins serve as capacitors that buffer gene expression against hidden genetic variability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / genetics*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Gene Expression / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Genetic Variation / physiology*
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Species Specificity
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Yeasts / genetics
  • Yeasts / metabolism


  • Chromatin
  • Transcription Factors