Alternative Splice in Alternative Lice.

TitleAlternative Splice in Alternative Lice.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsTovar-Corona, JM, Castillo-Morales, A, Chen, L, Olds, BP, Clark, JM, Reynolds, SE, Pittendrigh, BR, Feil, EJ, Urrutia, AO
JournalMol Biol Evol
Date Published2015 Oct
KeywordsAlternative Splicing, Animals, Gene Ontology, Genes, Insect, Humans, Pediculus, Phthiraptera

Genomic and transcriptomics analyses have revealed human head and body lice to be almost genetically identical; although con-specific, they nevertheless occupy distinct ecological niches and have differing feeding patterns. Most importantly, while head lice are not known to be vector competent, body lice can transmit three serious bacterial diseases; epidemictyphus, trench fever, and relapsing fever. In order to gain insights into the molecular bases for these differences, we analyzed alternative splicing (AS) using next-generation sequencing data for one strain of head lice and one strain of body lice. We identified a total of 3,598 AS events which were head or body lice specific. Exon skipping AS events were overrepresented among both head and body lice, whereas intron retention events were underrepresented in both. However, both the enrichment of exon skipping and the underrepresentation of intron retention are significantly stronger in body lice compared with head lice. Genes containing body louse-specific AS events were found to be significantly enriched for functions associated with development of the nervous system, salivary gland, trachea, and ovarian follicle cells, as well as regulation of transcription. In contrast, no functional categories were overrepresented among genes with head louse-specific AS events. Together, our results constitute the first evidence for transcript pool differences in head and body lice, providing insights into molecular adaptations that enabled human lice to adapt to clothing, and representing a powerful illustration of the pivotal role AS can play in functional adaptation.

Alternate JournalMol Biol Evol
PubMed ID26169943
PubMed Central IDPMC4576711
Grant ListBB/I000836/1 / / Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council / United Kingdom