Developmental phenomics suggests that H3K4 monomethylation confers multi-level phenotypic robustness

Cell Rep. 2022 Dec 13;41(11):111832. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111832.


How histone modifications affect animal development remains difficult to ascertain. Despite the prevalence of histone 3 lysine 4 monomethylation (H3K4me1) on enhancers, hypomethylation appears to have minor effects on phenotype and viability. Here, we genetically reduce H3K4me1 deposition in Drosophila melanogaster and find that hypomethylation reduces transcription factor enrichment in nuclear microenvironments, disrupts gene expression, and reduces phenotypic robustness. Using a developmental phenomics approach, we find changes in morphology, metabolism, behavior, and offspring production. However, many phenotypic changes are only detected when hypomethylated flies develop outside of standard laboratory environments or with specific genetic backgrounds. Therefore, quantitative phenomics measurements can unravel how pleiotropic modulators of gene expression affect developmental robustness under conditions resembling the natural environments of a species.

Keywords: CP: Developmental biology; CP: Molecular biology; H3K4me1; evolvability; nuclear microenvironments; phenomics; phenotypic capacitor; robustness; shavenbaby; ultrabithorax.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila melanogaster* / metabolism
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Phenomics
  • Phenotype


  • Histones