Tissue Specificity and Dynamics of Sex-Biased Gene Expression in a Common Frog Population with Differentiated, Yet Homomorphic, Sex Chromosomes

Genes (Basel). 2018 Jun 12;9(6):294. doi: 10.3390/genes9060294.


Sex-biased genes are central to the study of sexual selection, sexual antagonism, and sex chromosome evolution. We describe a comprehensive de novo assembled transcriptome in the common frog Rana temporaria based on five developmental stages and three adult tissues from both sexes, obtained from a population with karyotypically homomorphic but genetically differentiated sex chromosomes. This allows the study of sex-biased gene expression throughout development, and its effect on the rate of gene evolution while accounting for pleiotropic expression, which is known to negatively correlate with the evolutionary rate. Overall, sex-biased genes had little overlap among developmental stages and adult tissues. Late developmental stages and gonad tissues had the highest numbers of stage- or tissue-specific genes. We find that pleiotropic gene expression is a better predictor than sex bias for the evolutionary rate of genes, though it often interacts with sex bias. Although genetically differentiated, the sex chromosomes were not enriched in sex-biased genes, possibly due to a very recent arrest of XY recombination. These results extend our understanding of the developmental dynamics, tissue specificity, and genomic localization of sex-biased genes.

Keywords: adult tissues; development; gene expression; pleiotropy; rate of evolution; sex bias; sex chromosomes; tissue specificity.