Unravelling paralogous gene expression dynamics during three-spined stickleback embryogenesis

Sci Rep. 2019 Mar 6;9(1):3752. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-40127-2.


Development requires the implementation of a plethora of molecular mechanisms, involving a large set of genes to ensure proper cell differentiation, morphogenesis of tissues and organs as well as the growth of the organism. Genome duplication and resulting paralogs are considered to provide the raw genetic materials important for new adaptation opportunities and boosting evolutionary innovation. The present study investigated paralogous genes, involved in three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) development. Therefore, the transcriptomes of five early stages comprising developmental leaps were explored. Obtained expression profiles reflected the embryo's needs at different stages. Early stages, such as the morula stage comprised transcripts mainly involved in energy requirements while later stages were mostly associated with GO terms relevant to organ development and morphogenesis. The generated transcriptome profiles were further explored for differential expression of known and new paralogous genes. Special attention was given to hox genes, with hoxa13a being of particular interest and to pigmentation genes where itgb1, involved in the melanophore development, displayed a complementary expression pattern throughout studied stages. Knowledge obtained by untangling specific paralogous gene functions during development might not only significantly contribute to the understanding of teleost ontogenesis but might also shed light on paralogous gene evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Embryonic Development
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Fish Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Duplication
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Integrin beta1 / genetics
  • Male
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Smegmamorpha / embryology*
  • Smegmamorpha / genetics


  • Fish Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Integrin beta1
  • homeobox protein HOXA13