Transcriptomic and epigenomic characterization of the developing bat wing

Nat Genet. 2016 May;48(5):528-36. doi: 10.1038/ng.3537. Epub 2016 Mar 28.


Bats are the only mammals capable of powered flight, but little is known about the genetic determinants that shape their wings. Here we generated a genome for Miniopterus natalensis and performed RNA-seq and ChIP-seq (H3K27ac and H3K27me3) analyses on its developing forelimb and hindlimb autopods at sequential embryonic stages to decipher the molecular events that underlie bat wing development. Over 7,000 genes and several long noncoding RNAs, including Tbx5-as1 and Hottip, were differentially expressed between forelimb and hindlimb, and across different stages. ChIP-seq analysis identified thousands of regions that are differentially modified in forelimb and hindlimb. Comparative genomics found 2,796 bat-accelerated regions within H3K27ac peaks, several of which cluster near limb-associated genes. Pathway analyses highlighted multiple ribosomal proteins and known limb patterning signaling pathways as differentially regulated and implicated increased forelimb mesenchymal condensation in differential growth. In combination, our work outlines multiple genetic components that likely contribute to bat wing formation, providing insights into this morphological innovation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / embryology*
  • Chiroptera / genetics*
  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Genome
  • Male
  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcriptome*
  • Wings, Animal / embryology*


  • RNA, Long Noncoding