Emergence of novel genomic regulatory regions associated with light-organ development in the bobtail squid

iScience. 2023 Jun 9;26(7):107091. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.107091. eCollection 2023 Jul 21.


Light organs (LO) with symbiotic bioluminescent bacteria are hallmarks of many bobtail squid species. These organs possess structural and functional features to modulate light, analogous to those found in coleoid eyes. Previous studies identified four transcription factors and modulators (SIX, EYA, PAX6, DAC) associated with both eyes and light organ development, suggesting co-option of a highly conserved gene regulatory network. Using available topological, open chromatin, and transcriptomic data, we explore the regulatory landscape around the four transcription factors as well as genes associated with LO and shared LO/eye expression. This analysis revealed several closely associated and putatively co-regulated genes. Comparative genomic analyses identified distinct evolutionary origins of these putative regulatory associations, with the DAC locus showing a unique topological and evolutionarily recent organization. We discuss different scenarios of modifications to genome topology and how these changes may have contributed to the evolutionary emergence of the light organ.

Keywords: Evolutionary biology; Molecular biology; Zoology.