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The methylation landscape and its role in domestication and gene regulation in the chicken

Hoglund, Andrey; Henriksen, Rie; Fogelholm, Jesper; Churcher, Allison M.; Guerrero-Bosagna, Carlos M.; Martinez-Barrio, Alvaro; Johnsson, Martin; Jensen, Per; Wright, Dominic


Domestication is one of the strongest examples of artificial selection and has produced some of the most extreme within-species phenotypic variation known. In the case of the chicken, it has been hypothesized that DNA methylation may play a mechanistic role in the domestication response. By inter-crossing wild-derived red junglefowl with domestic chickens, we mapped quantitative trait loci for hypothalamic methylation (methQTL), gene expression (eQTL) and behaviour. We find large, stable methylation differences, with 6,179cisand 2,973transmethQTL identified. Over 46% of thetranseffects were genotypically controlled by five loci, mainly associated with increased methylation in the junglefowl genotype. In a third of eQTL, we find that there is a correlation between gene expression and methylation, while statistical causality analysis reveals multiple instances where methylation is driving gene expression, as well as the reverse. We also show that methylation is correlated with some aspects of behavioural variation in the inter-cross. In conclusion, our data suggest a role for methylation in the regulation of gene expression underlying the domesticated phenotype of the chicken.Quantitative trait loci mapping of a cross between red junglefowl and domestic chickens provides evidence for the role of methylation in regulating gene expression in the domestication process.

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Nature ecology & evolution
2020, Volym: 4, nummer: 12, sidor: 1713-1724

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