High Stability of the Epigenome in Drosophila Interspecific Hybrids

Genome Biol Evol. 2022 Feb 4;14(2):evac024. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evac024.


Interspecific hybridization is often seen as a genomic stress that may lead to new gene expression patterns and deregulation of transposable elements (TEs). The understanding of expression changes in hybrids compared with parental species is essential to disentangle their putative role in speciation processes. However, to date we ignore the detailed mechanisms involved in genomic deregulation in hybrids. We studied the ovarian transcriptome and epigenome of the Drosophila buzzatii and Drosophila koepferae species together with their F1 hybrid females. We found a trend toward underexpression of genes and TE families in hybrids. The epigenome in hybrids was highly similar to the parental epigenomes and showed intermediate histone enrichments between parental species in most cases. Differential gene expression in hybrids was often associated only with changes in H3K4me3 enrichments, whereas differential TE family expression in hybrids may be associated with changes in H3K4me3, H3K9me3, or H3K27me3 enrichments. We identified specific genes and TE families, which their differential expression in comparison with the parental species was explained by their differential chromatin mark combination enrichment. Finally, cis-trans compensatory regulation could also contribute in some way to the hybrid deregulation. This work provides the first study of histone content in Drosophila interspecific hybrids and their effect on gene and TE expression deregulation.

Keywords: Drosophila; deregulation; epigenome; histone methylation; interspecific hybrids; transposable elements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Drosophila* / genetics
  • Epigenome*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Ovary / metabolism


  • DNA Transposable Elements