The DNA replication timing program is modulated throughout development and is also one of the main factors influencing the distribution of mutation rates across the genome. However, the relationship between the mutagenic influence of replication timing and its developmental plasticity remains unexplored. Here, we studied the distribution of copy number variations (CNVs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms across the zebrafish genome in relation to changes in DNA replication timing during embryonic development in this model vertebrate species. We show that CNV sites exhibit strong replication timing plasticity during development, replicating significantly early during early development but significantly late during more advanced developmental stages. Reciprocally, genomic regions that changed their replication timing during development contained a higher proportion of CNVs than developmentally constant regions. Developmentally plastic CNV sites, in particular those that become delayed in their replication timing, were enriched for the clustered protocadherins, a set of genes important for neuronal development that have undergone extensive genetic and epigenetic diversification during zebrafish evolution. In contrast, single nucleotide polymorphism sites replicated consistently early throughout embryonic development, highlighting a unique aspect of the zebrafish genome. Our results uncover a hitherto unrecognized interface between development and evolution.
Keywords: DNA replication timing; embryonic development; germline mutations; zebrafish.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.