The mode of expression divergence in Drosophila fat body is infection-specific

Genome Res. 2021 Jun;31(6):1024-1034. doi: 10.1101/gr.269597.120. Epub 2021 Apr 15.


Transcription is controlled by interactions of cis-acting DNA elements with diffusible trans-acting factors. Changes in cis or trans factors can drive expression divergence within and between species, and their relative prevalence can reveal the evolutionary history and pressures that drive expression variation. Previous work delineating the mode of expression divergence in animals has largely used whole-body expression measurements in one condition. Because cis-acting elements often drive expression in a subset of cell types or conditions, these measurements may not capture the complete contribution of cis-acting changes. Here, we quantify the mode of expression divergence in the Drosophila fat body, the primary immune organ, in several conditions, using two geographically distinct lines of D. melanogaster and their F1 hybrids. We measured expression in the absence of infection and in infections with Gram-negative S. marcescens or Gram-positive E. faecalis bacteria, which trigger the two primary signaling pathways in the Drosophila innate immune response. The mode of expression divergence strongly depends on the condition, with trans-acting effects dominating in response to Gram-negative infection and cis-acting effects dominating in Gram-positive and preinfection conditions. Expression divergence in several receptor proteins may underlie the infection-specific trans effects. Before infection, when the fat body has a metabolic role, there are many compensatory effects, changes in cis and trans that counteract each other to maintain expression levels. This work shows that within a single tissue, the mode of expression divergence varies between conditions and suggests that these differences reflect the diverse evolutionary histories of host-pathogen interactions.

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
  • Bacterial Infections / genetics
  • Biological Evolution
  • Drosophila Proteins* / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila* / genetics
  • Fat Body* / immunology
  • Fat Body* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression*
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid


  • Drosophila Proteins