Domestication Explains Two-Thirds of Differential-Gene-Expression Variance between Domestic and Wild Animals; The Remaining One-Third Reflects Intraspecific and Interspecific Variation

Animals (Basel). 2021 Sep 10;11(9):2667. doi: 10.3390/ani11092667.


Belyaev's concept of destabilizing selection during domestication was a major achievement in the XX century. Its practical value has been realized in commercial colors of the domesticated fox that never occur in the wild and has been confirmed in a wide variety of pet breeds. Many human disease models involving animals allow to test drugs before human testing. Perhaps this is why investigators doing transcriptomic profiling of domestic versus wild animals have searched for breed-specific patterns. Here we sequenced hypothalamic transcriptomes of tame and aggressive rats, identified their differentially expressed genes (DEGs), and, for the first time, applied principal component analysis to compare them with all the known DEGs of domestic versus wild animals that we could find. Two principal components, PC1 and PC2, respectively explained 67% and 33% of differential-gene-expression variance (hereinafter: log2 value) between domestic and wild animals. PC1 corresponded to multiple orthologous DEGs supported by homologs; these DEGs kept the log2 value sign from species to species and from tissue to tissue (i.e., a common domestication pattern). PC2 represented stand-alone homologous DEG pairs reversing the log2 value sign from one species to another and from tissue to tissue (i.e., representing intraspecific and interspecific variation).

Keywords: RNA-Seq; Rattus norvegicus; differentially expressed gene; domestication; interspecific variation; intraspecific variety; principal component analysis; qPCR.