Open Access

Gene expression analysis of the ovary of hybrid females of Xenopus laevis and X. muelleri

BMC Evolutionary Biology20088:82

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2148-8-82

Received: 09 August 2007

Accepted: 10 March 2008

Published: 10 March 2008

Abstract

Background

Interspecific hybrids of frogs of the genus Xenopus result in sterile hybrid males and fertile hybrid females. Previous work has demonstrated a dramatic asymmetrical pattern of misexpression in hybrid males compared to the two parental species with relatively few genes misexpressed in comparisons of hybrids and the maternal species (X. laevis) and dramatically more genes misexpressed in hybrids compared to the paternal species (X. muelleri). In this work, we examine the gene expression pattern in hybrid females of X. laevis × X. muelleri to determine if this asymmetrical pattern of expression also occurs in hybrid females.

Results

We find a similar pattern of asymmetry in expression compared to males in that there were more genes differentially expressed between hybrids and X. muelleri compared to hybrids and X. laevis. We also found a dramatic increase in the number of misexpressed genes with hybrid females having about 20 times more genes misexpressed in ovaries compared to testes of hybrid males and therefore the match between phenotype and expression pattern is not supported.

Conclusion

We discuss these intriguing findings in the context of reproductive isolation and suggest that divergence in female expression may be involved in sterility of hybrid males due to the inherent sensitivity of spermatogenesis as defined by the faster male evolution hypothesis for Haldane's rule.

Background

Frogs of the genus Xenopus provide a striking exception to the most widespread generalization in evolutionary biology-Haldane's rule [16]. Haldane's rule states that the heterogametic sex (XY or ZW) typically suffers the most dysfunctional effects of interspecific hybridization [7] and the broad applicability of Haldane's rule across diverse groups of organisms suggests that common mechanisms may underlie postzygotic reproductive isolation [5]. Xenopus have ZW sex determination and Haldane's rule would predict that hybrid females should suffer the most dramatic effects of hybridization but contrary to expectation, F1 hybrid males are completely sterile and hybrid females are fertile [1, 2].

Analyses of spermatogenesis in hybrid males of X. laevis × X. muelleri have shown that males have a dramatically lower abundance of motile sperm, increased numbers of undifferentiated sperm cells, and larger mature sperm cells compared to parental species [2]. The gene expression pattern for hybrid males shows a striking asymmetric pattern in that relatively few genes are differentially expressed between hybrids and the maternal species (X. laevis) whereas there are dramatically more genes differentially expressed between hybrid males and the paternal species, X. muelleri. These results suggest intriguing mechanisms operating on the transcriptome in hybrid males of Xenopus that may reflect strong maternal and/or species dominance effects [2].

Hybrid females are just as fertile as conspecific species [1] and given the phenotype of hybrid females, a reasonable prediction would be that gene expression should be similar compared to the two parental species. However, given the asymmetrical pattern of expression operating in hybrid males, it is of interest to investigate the pattern of gene expression in hybrid oogenesis, particularly since oogenesis in hybrids does not seem to be affected by the hybrid genetic background compared to hybrid males.

In this study, we analyzed the gene expression pattern of adult ovary in hybrid females of X. laevis × X. muelleri compared to the two parental species. Our analyses reveal a pattern of asymmetrical gene expression like that in testes of hybrid males but surprisingly there is a dramatic increase in the number of genes misexpressed in hybrid female ovaries compared to the two parental species relative to hybrid males. This increased level of gene misexpression suggests that oogenesis can tolerate dramatically more misexpression compared to spermatogenesis and points further evidence to the sensitive spermatogenesis component of the faster male evolution hypothesis for Haldane's rule.

Results

There was a substantial amount of differential expression in hybrid ovary compared to the ovaries of the two parental species. Using adjusted significance tests (P < 0.05), about 14% (1,616/11,485) of genes were differentially expressed in hybrid females compared to females of X. laevis and 63% (7,279/11,485) of genes were differentially expressed between hybrids and X. muelleri (Fig. 1). The number of genes upregulated in hybrids relative to X. laevis compared to the number of genes upregulated in X. laevis relative to hybrids was the same (839 vs. 777; G = 2.38; df = 1; P > 0.05) but there were significantly more genes upregulated in X. muelleri compared to hybrids (4,349 vs. 2,930; G = 139.2; df = 1; P < 0.0001). Many of the top 30 most differentially expressed genes for each class of gene expression behavior are expressed sequence tags (ESTs) with little functional information but our results imply that these sequences play a role in oogenesis in Xenopus. Of the top 30 candidate genes with known function many have a documented role in oogenesis in other organisms (Table 1, 2, 3, 4). Comparing the two lists of differentially expressed genes showed that about 68% (1105/1616) were common to both X. laevis vs. hybrids and X. muelleri vs. hybrids. This common set of differentially expressed genes suggests a set of genes that are uniquely expressed in hybrids relative to the two parental species.
https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2F1471-2148-8-82/MediaObjects/12862_2007_Article_651_Fig1_HTML.jpg
Figure 1

Volcano plots of gene expression. Volcano plots from FDR corrected t-tests of statistical significance (vertical axis) against magnitude of expression change (horizontal axis), where each point corresponds to a gene/transcript. Expression change (fold-change) is defined as a log2-transformed ratio of mean nonhybrid to mean hybrid expression level. (A) Xenopus laevis (L) vs. Hybrids (H); (B) Xenpous muelleri (M) vs. Hybrids (H). The red horizontal line denotes FDR adjusted alpha 0.05. The horizontal deviation from 0 towards the right or left reflects hybrid underexpression or overexpression, respectively.

Table 1

Candidate transcripts upregulated in X. laevis compared to hybrids.

ProbeID

GenBankID

Target Gene

Gene Symbol

Description/Molecular Function

Mean Laevis

SD Laevis

Mean Hybrid

SD Hybrid

L-H

adj.P.Val

Xl.1473.1.A1_at

AW147858

EST

 

Weakly similar to hypothetical protein MGC3731 (H. sapiens)

10.18

0.56

4.28

0.43

5.90

0.0041

Xl.7484.1.A1_at

BJ081331

EST

MGC84382

Intracellular signaling cascade

7.33

0.54

3.01

0.25

4.32

0.0041

Xl.14874.1.A1_at

BM180490

EST

 

Highly similar to T2D1_HUMAN TRANSCRIPTION INITIATION FACTOR TFIID 250 KD SUBUNIT

7.35

0.35

3.29

0.54

4.06

0.0041

Xl.2557.1.S1_at

BG730898

EST

 

Weakly similar to A39599 55 K erythrocyte membrane protein – human (H. sapiens)

10.12

0.30

6.10

0.18

4.02

0.0041

Xl.4581.1.A1_at

CB562594

EST

LOC398314

Dihydrolipoamide acetyltransferase

7.34

0.40

3.45

0.37

3.88

0.0041

Xl.14122.1.A1_at

BJ079520

EST

LOC494727

 

9.51

0.42

5.70

1.02

3.81

0.0072

Xl.12012.2.A1_at

BM191810

EST

 

Weakly similar to FW1A_HUMAN F-boxWD-repeat protein

7.39

0.34

3.63

0.77

3.76

0.0057

Xl.23885.1.S1_at

BQ388097

EST

  

7.76

0.50

4.05

0.59

3.71

0.0057

Xl.3628.1.A1_at

BG023013

EST

  

7.18

1.34

3.52

0.77

3.66

0.0325

Xl.24509.1.A1_at

BJ078115

EST

MGC132176

Heme oxygenase (decyclizing) activity

9.04

0.30

5.50

0.56

3.53

0.0041

Xl.14330.2.S1_at

BG021901

EST

MGC85135

Nucleic acid binding

8.63

0.27

5.34

0.36

3.29

0.0041

Xl.10705.1.A1_at

BJ051966

EST

LOC495457

Weakly similar to A36368 transcription factor CBF, CCAAT-binding – (H. sapiens)

8.67

0.34

5.45

0.79

3.22

0.0064

Xl.1973.1.S1_at

BQ383513

EST

MGC78898

Ubiquitin-protein ligase activity

7.41

0.19

4.19

0.39

3.22

0.0041

Xl.4825.1.A1_at

BG514303

EST

  

10.16

0.84

6.99

0.62

3.17

0.0182

Xl.14885.1.A1_at

BM180520

EST

MGC82215

 

8.79

0.46

5.64

0.23

3.15

0.0057

Xl.16512.1.A1_at

BJ050593

EST

  

7.03

0.48

3.91

1.11

3.12

0.0142

Xl.1448.2.S1_a_at

BG408234

EST

 

Moderately similar to pallidin; pallid (mouse) homolog, pallidin (H. sapiens)

7.59

0.44

4.50

1.91

3.10

0.0325

Xl.16106.1.A1_at

BG161783

EST

LOC495116

 

8.24

0.23

5.18

0.69

3.05

0.0057

Xl.25509.1.A1_at

BJ084136

EST

LOC495259

 

6.09

0.34

3.09

0.23

3.00

0.0044

Xl.25610.1.A1_at

BF025269

EST

 

Similar to thyroid hormone receptor associated protein 3 (predicted) [Rattus norvegicus]

7.16

0.09

4.19

0.77

2.98

0.0057

Xl.10826.1.A1_at

CB560349

EST

MGC82938

Moderately similar to AAKG_HUMAN 5-AMP-activated protein kinase, (H. sapiens)

8.37

0.31

5.42

0.37

2.95

0.0047

Xl.8907.1.S1_at

AW632884

proliferation-2G4

Pa2g4

Xenopus laevis, Similar to proliferation-associated 2G4

6.95

0.49

4.00

1.03

2.95

0.0148

Xl.6727.1.A1_at

BG234472

EST

LOC780754

Regulation of transcription, DNA-dependent

7.28

0.75

4.33

0.33

2.95

0.0149

Xl.2780.1.S1_at

BQ400343

TIA1

tial1-a

Nucleic acid binding

6.41

0.58

3.52

0.64

2.89

0.0124

Xl.16426.1.A1_at

BJ045456

EST

  

6.58

0.40

3.71

0.46

2.87

0.0063

Xl.6421.1.A1_at

AW633197

EST

MGC68457

 

8.68

0.38

5.82

0.21

2.86

0.0057

Xl.22941.1.A1_at

BJ048949

EST

MGC83726

Moderately similar to A57088 nucleoporin-like protein Rab;regulation of GTPase activity

6.79

0.15

3.98

0.43

2.81

0.0041

Xl.25368.2.A1_at

BI444111

EST

MGC69123

Weakly similar to IFR1_HUMAN INTERFERON-RELATED DEVELOPMENTAL REGULATOR 1(H. sapiens)

6.21

0.61

3.42

0.56

2.79

0.0139

Xl.14796.1.A1_at

BM179493

EST

MGC82526

 

7.10

0.69

4.32

0.68

2.78

0.0182

Xl.19146.3.A1_at

BJ057192

EST

MGC81986

 

7.88

0.52

5.11

0.90

2.78

0.0151

Top 30 candidate transcripts upregulated in X. laevis and differentially expressed between females of X. laevis and hybrids. Expression values are in log2 scale; SD = standard deviation of expression values. P values are adjusted according to FDR moderated t-tests.

Table 2

Candidate transcripts upregulated in hybrids compared to X. laevis.

ProbeID

GenBankID

Target Gene

GeneSymbol

Description/Molecular Function

Mean Laevis

SD Laevis

Mean Hybrid

SD Hybrid

L-H

adj.P.Val

Xl.4605.1.A1_at

BG552470

EST

MGC83384

 

3.41

0.39

7.63

0.44

-4.22

0.0041

Xl.19075.1.A1_at

BI675584

EST

 

Weakly similar to HES2 (Hairy and enhancer of split 2) (H. sapiens)

5.53

1.29

9.67

0.27

-4.14

0.0205

Xl.24502.1.S1_at

BJ098608

EST

 

Weakly similar to forkhead box P2; (H. sapiens)

4.56

0.70

8.65

0.00

-4.09

0.0060

Xl.23573.1.S1_at

BC041496.1

thymine-DNA glycosylase

TDG

Hydrolase activity, acting on glycosyl bonds

5.55

1.16

9.22

0.15

-3.67

0.0210

Xl.16239.1.A1_at

BJ039322

EST

  

5.39

1.36

8.66

0.46

-3.27

0.0405

Xl.8630.1.S1_s_at

BC045272.1

MGC53990

MGC53990

Similar to serum-inducible kinase; protein serine/threonine kinase act.

4.74

0.36

8.01

0.75

-3.26

0.0062

Xl.21956.1.S1_at

BC042271.1

MGC53461

MGC53461

 

8.39

0.22

11.57

0.00

-3.18

0.0041

Xl.24699.1.S1_at

CB984321

EST

MGC79012

Highly similar to alpha cardiac actin (H. sapiens)

3.65

0.36

6.51

1.79

-2.85

0.0327

Xl.10600.1.S1_at

BE491023

EST

  

4.88

0.94

7.68

0.25

-2.80

0.0256

Xl.11324.1.A1_at

BG552091

EST

  

3.44

0.46

6.23

0.11

-2.79

0.0064

Xl.13010.1.A1_at

BJ099673

EST

  

5.43

0.46

8.22

1.89

-2.79

0.0417

Xl.14915.1.A1_at

BM180884

EST

  

5.11

0.30

7.72

0.35

-2.61

0.0057

Xl.13666.1.A1_x_at

BJ091634

EST

  

7.61

0.80

10.17

0.37

-2.57

0.0230

Xl.24516.1.S1_at

CB560511

EST

LOC495356

Weakly similar to Apolipoprotein E precursor (H. sapiens); lipid binding

6.41

0.60

8.93

1.00

-2.52

0.0244

Xl.13831.3.S1_at

BJ075928

EST

  

5.64

0.45

8.05

0.17

-2.41

0.0094

Xl.24058.1.S1_at

BI940804

EST

MGC82121

Highly similar to histone H2A.FZ variant, isoform 1(H. sapiens)

6.99

0.28

9.40

0.09

-2.41

0.0057

Xl.16509.1.A1_at

BJ084267

EST

  

4.04

0.35

6.44

1.00

-2.40

0.0185

Xl.433.2.S1_at

BC044959.1

neurotrophin receptor B

trkb-b

Protein amino acid phosphorylation

3.68

0.40

6.01

0.00

-2.33

0.0076

Xl.19610.1.A1_at

BJ084191

EST

 

Similar to Angiopoietin-1 receptor precursor (mTIE2)

4.48

0.05

6.81

0.36

-2.33

0.0043

Xl.75.1.S1_at

D78003.1

c4

c4

Endopeptidase inhibitor activity i fourth component of complement

4.09

0.47

6.41

0.00

-2.32

0.0101

Xl.882.1.S1_at

U07179.1

Ldehydrogenase A

ldha

Oxidoreductase activity

5.29

0.94

7.60

0.06

-2.31

0.0387

Xl.17327.1.A1_at

BI448285

EST

MGC68503

 

4.77

0.49

7.07

0.19

-2.29

0.0117

Xl.747.1.S1_at

AF170341.1

galectin-1

MGC64502

Sugar binding

5.51

0.21

7.80

0.55

-2.29

0.0075

Xl.545.1.S1_at

AF170344.1

metastasis associated 1

mta2

Transcription factor activity, regulation of transcription

7.85

0.51

10.14

0.13

-2.29

0.0124

Xl.23647.1.S1_at

BC047974.1

cell death 2

pdcd2

Apoptosis

4.11

0.36

6.34

0.40

-2.23

0.0096

Xl.19047.1.A1_at

BI478140

Coatomerprotein

copa

ER to Golgi vesicle-mediated transport i

8.05

0.35

10.28

0.01

-2.23

0.0071

Xl.9113.1.A1_at

BG346438

chimerin

chn1

Signal transduction

6.10

0.76

8.32

0.12

-2.22

0.0276

Xl.16847.1.A1_at

BJ052360

EST

  

4.22

0.74

6.44

0.36

-2.22

0.0279

Xl.13666.1.A1_at

BJ091634

EST

  

6.81

0.77

8.97

0.54

-2.16

0.0350

Xl.721.1.S1_at

L09728.1

transcription factor DLL4

Dlx2

Regulation of transcription, DNA-dependent

7.89

0.58

10.04

0.35

-2.15

0.0199

Top 30 candidate transcripts upregulated in hybrids and differentially expressed between females of X. laevis and hybrids. Expression values are in log2 scale; SD = standard deviation of expression values. P values are adjusted according to FDR moderated t-tests.

Table 3

Candidate transcripts upregulated in X. muelleri compared to hybrids.

Probe ID

GenBank ID

Target Gene

Gene Symbol

Description/Molecular Function

Mean Muell.

SD Muell.

Mean Hybrid

SD Hybrid

M-H

P value

Xl.12012.2.A1_at

BM191810

EST

 

Weakly similar to FW1A_HUMAN F-boxWD-repeat protein 1B (H. sapiens)

8.50

0.22

3.16

0.55

5.35

0.0002

Xl.7034.1.S1_at

BC043865.1

LOC398646

LOC398646

Similar to pantophysin, transporter activity

10.03

0.23

5.60

0.29

4.44

0.0002

Xl.5802.1.A1_x_at

AW764672

EST

  

9.84

0.32

5.46

0.27

4.38

0.0002

Xl.5299.1.S1_at

BI445766

SEB-4

seb4-a

Nucleic acid binding

8.67

0.44

4.47

1.24

4.19

0.0014

Xl.17322.1.A1_a_at

BJ077543

EST

 

Weakly similar to myeloidlymphoid or mixed-lineage leukemia 2; ALL1-related gene (H. sapiens)

7.00

0.09

2.90

0.14

4.10

0.0001

Xl.3326.2.S1_a_at

X63427.1

Bmp7

MGC68434

Bone morphogentic protein, ossification, growth factor activity

8.03

0.53

3.94

0.43

4.09

0.0005

Xl.24194.1.S1_at

CD362680

EST

MGC68920

Ribosome biogenesis and assembly

8.36

0.60

4.27

1.21

4.09

0.0019

XlAffx.1.12.S1_at

AF256087.1

Xcat 2

Xcat 2

Xenopus borealis Xcat-2

10.81

0.09

6.79

0.43

4.02

0.0002

Xl.23898.1.A1_x_at

BF428365

EST

MGC82089

Membrane alanyl aminopeptidase activity

8.12

0.12

4.12

0.11

4.00

0.0001

Xl.25735.1.S1_at

BE026658

EST

 

Weakly similar to GRF1_HUMAN G-rich sequence factor-1 (GRSF-1) (H. sapiens)

9.66

0.23

5.68

0.47

3.97

0.0002

Xl.14298.1.A1_at

BQ383420

EST

 

Moderately similar to MOB-LAK (Homo sapiens) (H. sapiens)

7.73

0.29

3.82

0.46

3.90

0.0003

Xl.4311.1.A1_at

BM261211

EST

  

6.75

0.24

2.86

0.37

3.89

0.0002

Xl.25283.1.S1_s_at

BU904283

EST

MGC85348

Highly similar to RL2B_HUMAN 60S ribosomal protein L23a (H. sapiens); structural constituent of ribosome

11.11

0.08

7.22

0.18

3.88

0.0001

Xl.24302.1.A1_at

BG555239

EST

  

9.69

0.04

5.83

0.05

3.86

0.0001

Xl.61.1.S1_s_at

Y17861.1

LAP2

LAP2

Lamina associated polypeptide 2; nuclear envelope

10.11

0.12

6.28

0.21

3.82

0.0001

Xl.15150.1.A1_at

BJ097608

EST

  

7.54

0.32

3.75

0.22

3.79

0.0002

Xl.6902.1.A1_at

BM261049

EST

MGC68575

Highly similar to B-cell CLLlymphoma 11A (zinc finger protein); (H. sapiens); nucleic acid binding

7.37

0.47

3.60

0.04

3.76

0.0003

Xl.8049.1.S1_a_at

BC041550.1

Similar to VAMP

MGC53868

Similar to VAMP (vesicle-associated membrane protein)-associated protein A, structural molecule activity

8.22

0.28

4.47

0.43

3.75

0.0003

Xl.6272.1.A1_at

AW782701

MGC83120

MGC83120

Highly similar to Calcium-binding protein p22 (Calcium-binding protein CHP) (H. sapiens); calcium ion binding

10.36

0.23

6.65

0.28

3.71

0.0002

Xl.8805.1.S1_s_at

CB564916

ribosomal protein L4

rpl-4

Ribosomal protein L1; structural constituent of ribosome

11.01

0.19

7.37

1.79

3.64

0.0059

Xl.2546.1.S1_at

CD324865

Psma2

Psma2

Proteasome subunit XC3; ubiquitin-dependent protein catabolism

8.19

0.25

4.58

0.10

3.61

0.0002

Xl.17949.1.S1_at

BG022283

EST

MGC68573

Cytochrome-c oxidase activity

7.41

0.23

3.83

0.21

3.58

0.0002

Xl.25755.1.A1_at

CB756768

EST

LOC734179

Moderately similar to SYQ_HUMAN Glutaminyl-tRNA synthetase(H. sapiens), glutamate-tRNA ligase activity, protein biosynthesis

7.67

0.18

4.09

0.30

3.58

0.0002

Xl.7619.1.S1_a_at

BC045223.1

zf-e326

zf-e326

Intracellular signaling cascade

9.85

0.09

6.28

0.41

3.57

0.0002

Xl.23754.1.S1_at

AW147985

EST

LOC495016

 

8.87

0.30

5.32

0.01

3.55

0.0002

Xl.23241.1.S1_at

CA988460

EST

  

8.23

0.37

4.68

0.37

3.55

0.0004

Xl.7661.1.S1_at

BJ097640

EST

LOC495305

Weakly similar to MCA3_HUMAN Multisynthetase complex auxiliary component p18 (H. sapiens)

11.18

0.14

7.64

0.40

3.54

0.0002

Xl.2200.1.A1_at

BM179326

EST

 

Calcium ion binding

6.64

0.02

3.13

0.11

3.51

0.0001

Xl.1140.1.S1_s_at

X63425.1

Bmp2

Bmp2

Bone morphogenetic protein 2; growth factor activity; ossification

9.29

0.18

5.79

0.07

3.50

0.0002

Xl.15786.1.A1_at

BJ056161

EST

MGC83224

tRNA processing

8.88

0.19

5.40

0.02

3.48

0.0002

Top 30 candidate transcripts upregulated in X. muelleri and differentially expressed between females of X. muelleri and hybrids. Expression values are in log2 scale; SD = standard deviation of expression values. P values are adjusted according to FDR moderated t-tests

Table 4

Candidate transcripts upregulated in hybrids compared to X. muelleri.

ProbeID

GenBank ID

Target Gene

GeneSymbol

Description/Molecular Function

Mean Muell.

SD Muell.

Mean Hybrid

SD Hybrid

M-H

P value

Xl.4276.1.S1_at

X53745.1

Cyclin A1

LOC397885

Regulation of progression through cell cycle

5.12

0.58

12.76

0.10

-7.64

0.0001

Xl.8319.1.S1_at

BJ098891

Herz03

Herz03

 

4.84

0.22

11.65

0.03

-6.80

0.0001

Xl.21809.1.S1_at

BC041555.1

MGC53900

MGC53900

Similar to calcium modulating ligand

3.00

0.31

9.78

0.23

-6.79

0.0001

Xl.17345.1.A1_at

BJ053357

EST

MGC115708

Weakly similar to MIC2_HUMAN T-cell surface glycoprotein E2 precursor (H. sapiens)

3.33

0.21

10.03

0.99

-6.70

0.0002

Xl.4744.1.S1_at

BE491637

 

LOC495025

Moderately similar to ubiquitin thiolesterase (H. sapiens); ubiquitin-dependent protein catabolism

4.78

0.60

11.43

0.16

-6.65

0.0002

Xl.6585.1.S1_at

BJ080015

Similar to HIV-1 rev binding protein 2

HRB2

RNA binding

3.22

0.20

9.75

0.14

-6.53

0.0001

Xl.21357.2.S1_at

BJ045324

Claudin7L1

MGC53400

Xenopus laevis cldn7L1 mRNA for Claudin7L1, structural molecule activity

3.90

0.27

10.42

0.03

-6.51

0.0001

Xl.14775.1.A1_at

BM179359

EST

 

Weakly similar to POL2_MOUSE Retrovirus-related POL polyprotein (M. musculus)

3.81

0.18

10.23

0.22

-6.43

0.0001

Xl.3668.1.S1_at

AF450296.1

XLCL2

LOC397879

Xenopus laevis F-box protein (PXP17), meiosis

4.46

0.60

10.82

0.06

-6.36

0.0002

Xl.3401.2.A2_at

BG016692

EST

LOC446970

Similar to axotrophin; likely ortholog of mouse axotrophin (H. sapiens), protein binding

3.72

0.63

9.95

0.14

-6.24

0.0002

Xl.1018.1.A1_at

U44950.1

Vitelline envelope glycoprotein

lzpb-a

Xenopus laevis vitelline envelope 37 k glycoprotein xlZPB

4.10

0.53

10.31

0.29

-6.22

0.0002

Xl.3862.2.S1_x_at

CD361360

Translation factor sui1

gc20

Translation initiation factor activity

3.29

0.41

9.45

0.17

-6.16

0.0001

Xl.7151.1.S1_at

BJ089477

EST

MGC68561

Moderately similar to hypothetical protein FLJ10738 (H. sapiens); 3'-5' exonuclease activity

4.69

0.31

10.84

0.21

-6.15

0.0001

Xl.3536.2.S1_x_at

BF615663

EST

LOC495200

Highly similar to transcription factor BTF3a – (H. sapiens)

4.19

0.26

10.32

1.21

-6.13

0.0004

Xl.23448.1.S1_at

BC041216.1

SWI/SNF

smarce1

Similar to SWISNF, actin dependent regulator of chromatin, regulation of transcription

3.75

0.62

9.88

0.23

-6.13

0.0002

Xl.2060.1.A1_x_at

BJ055271

EST

  

3.61

0.40

9.69

1.64

-6.08

0.0008

Xl.576.1.S1_at

AF184090.1

fatvg

fatvg

 

4.94

0.56

11.02

0.03

-6.08

0.0002

Xl.24785.1.S1_at

BM261081

EST

MGC81067

 

4.41

0.07

10.41

0.03

-5.99

0.0001

Xl.4504.1.A1_at

BJ076394

EST

 

Weakly similar to ACRC protein; putative nuclear protein (H. sapiens)

4.11

1.10

10.10

0.06

-5.99

0.0007

Xl.7045.1.S1_a_at

BQ398421

EST

 

Weakly similar to CTF1_HUMAN Cardiotrophin-1 (CT-1) (H. sapiens)

2.67

0.16

8.64

0.24

-5.97

0.0001

Xl.7252.1.S1_at

AY172320.1

Germes

LOC398520

 

3.60

0.18

9.55

0.27

-5.96

0.0001

Xl.2565.3.S1_x_at

CB561588

Similar to alpha-Tubulin at 84B

MGC53359

Xenopus laevis, Similar to alpha-Tubulin at 84B, microtubule-based movement

4.44

0.41

10.39

0.27

-5.95

0.0002

Xl.7837.1.A1_at

BF232270

EST

MGC132211

Highly similar to hypothetical protein FLJ10900 (H. sapiens), electron transport

2.94

0.43

8.88

0.02

-5.94

0.0001

Xl.25809.1.A1_at

BE026874

EST

MGC80281

Histidine catabolism

4.26

0.49

10.18

0.36

-5.92

0.0002

Xl.6605.1.A1_at

AW632842

EST

  

3.59

0.26

9.50

0.02

-5.91

0.0001

Xl.4170.2.A1_at

BQ398301

LOC494857

LOC494857

Cell differentiation

4.21

0.59

10.11

0.11

-5.90

0.0002

Xl.1014.1.S1_at

U46131.1

Cdc21 protein

cdc21

Xenopus laevis DNA replication initiator protein, DNA replication initiation, regulation of transcription

4.14

0.46

10.00

0.08

-5.86

0.0002

Xl.2839.1.S1_at

BC041270.1

Protein translocation complex

sec61beta

Similar to protein translocation complex beta

5.91

0.17

11.76

0.08

-5.85

0.0001

Xl.25536.1.A1_at

BE677987

EST

 

Weakly similar to hypothetical protein MGC2577 (H. sapiens)

4.36

1.14

10.15

0.93

-5.79

0.0012

Xl.14065.1.A1_at

AW147826

EST

  

3.61

0.15

9.33

0.12

-5.72

0.0001

Top 30 candidate transcripts upregulated in hybrids and differentially expressed between females of X. muelleri and hybrids. Expression values are in log2 scale; SD = standard deviation of expression values. P values are adjusted according to FDR moderated t-tests.

Gene expression between the two parental species was also dramatically different. More than 76% (8,741/11,485) of genes were differentially expressed between females of X. laevis and X. muelleri. Of these differentially expressed genes, about 60% (5,203/8,741) were upregulated in X. muelleri relative to X. laevis (5,203 vs. 3,538; G = 159.5; df = 1; P < 0.0001). Comparing the overlap in genes differentially expressed in the two hybrid contrasts to the three classes of expression behavior between X. laevis and X. muelleri (X. laevis > X. muelleri; X. laevis <X. muelleri; X. laevis = X. muelleri) shows a general pattern of semidominance in expression behavior (Table 5). For example, of the 839 genes upregulated in hybrids relative to X. laevis; 90% were upregulated in X. muelleri relative to X. laevis. Similarly, of the 2,930 genes that were upregulated in hybrids relative to X. muelleri, 91% were upregulated in X. laevis compared to X. muelleri. These results suggest a general pattern of intermediate expression in hybrids and are consistent with a semidominant model of expression difference even despite the asymmetrical pattern of misexpression in hybrids compared to the two parental species.
Table 5

Overlap of transcripts from comparisons of hybrids and both species.

 

L < H

L > H

M < H

M > H

L > M

24

626

2654

24

L < M

753

65

9

3997

L = M

62

86

267

328

Total

839

777

2930

4349

Comparison in the overlap of transcripts recovered as differentially expressed from the two contrasts with hybrids (Xenopus laevis (L) vs. hybrids (H) and X. muelleri (M) vs. hybrids) and the interspecies contrast (Xenopus laevis vs. X. muelleri). The congruence between patterns of expression behavior in hybrids compared to the interspecies comparison suggests a model of semidominance where hybrids have an intermediate level of expression compared to the two parental species

Discussion

Our analysis of hybrid females relative to the two parental species provides key insight into the process of oogenesis in hybrid females and the two parental species. There is an asymmetrical pattern of differential expression with about 4.5 times more genes differentially expressed between hybrids and Xenopus muelleri compared to X. laevis. This result implies that strong maternal and/or species dominance effects act in oogenesis and these are reflected in the hybrid transcriptome. Hybrid females have a general pattern of semidominance in gene expression with the majority of genes being expressed at intermediate levels compared to the two parental species. Finally, there is a dramatic divergence in gene expression in the ovary between the two parental species with more than 76% of genes differentially expressed between X. laevis and X. muelleri. This suggests that the process of oogenesis differs widely at the gene expression level between these two species of Xenopus.

It is important to consider the methodology used to gather the samples of RNA for this study. Samples of ovary (50 mg portions) were dissected and then homogenized in RNA extraction solution. Therefore, we gathered a sample of ovary rather than the entire ovary and this sample is a heterogeneous representation of oogenesis, rather than a direct assessment of specific stages of oocyte development. Given the heterogeneous nature of the tissue used to gather RNA, it is even more surprising that we found such strong effects. Increased heterogeneity among samples would decrease the ability to reject the null hypothesis that gene expression for a particular gene is the same between hybrids and conspecifics. Increased heterogeneity among samples would increase the standard error and thereby decrease power to reject the null hypothesis. In fact though, even despite the heterogeneous nature of the samples collected, we still reject a large portion of null hypotheses suggesting that our microarray results represent real biological effects, rather than statistical artifacts. Additionally, our results remain robust even when using different normalization techniques (scaling and Robust Multichip Averaging) providing further confidence that our results are not statistical artifacts (not shown).

The top 30 candidate genes for the contrasts between hybrids and the two parental species provide many genes with known roles in mitosis, meiosis, and oogenesis in general (Table 1, 2, 3, 4). One EST, MGC132176, is predicted to have heme oxygenase activity and this EST was upregulated 12 times in X. laevis relative to hybrids. Heme oxygenase plays a role in regulating ovarian steroidgenesis in rats and our results suggest this may be the case in Xenopus [8] as well. Of the genes with known function, many have been documented to play a role in oogenesis. For example, the proliferation associated protein PA2G4, which was upregulated in X. laevis about 8 times higher than in hybrids, has been previously isolated from Xenopus oocytes and is believed to play an important role in DNA replication and cell cycle progression [9]. One EST that is similar to the human transcription factor Hairy and enhancer of split 2, was upregulated 18 times in hybrids relative to X. laevis, and is known to be regulated by reproductive hormones in adult rat ovary [10]. Neurotrophin receptor B (Trkb-b) was upregulated 5 times in hybrids relative to X. laevis and plays a critical role in ovulation, steroid secretion, and follicular development in the ovary of rodents and humans [1115].

Examining candidate gene lists for the Xenopus muelleri vs. hybrid comparison also reveal many genes involved in oogenesis. For example two bone morphogenetic proteins, Bmp7 and Bmp2, are 17 and 11 times respectively upregulated in X. muelleri relative to hybrid females. Bone morphogenetic proteins are part of a class of proteins involved in the development and patterning of the adult ovary [16, 17]. Xcat-2 was upregulated 17 times more in X. muelleri relative to hybrids and is involved in the formation of germ plasm during stage I oocytes of Xenopus [18, 19]. Another gene of interest is LAP2, upregulated 14 times higher in X. muelleri compared to hybrids and specific isoforms of LAP2 are expressed exclusively in the ovary of anurans and salamanders [2022]. Cyclin A1, the most divergently expressed gene, was upregulated nearly 200 times higher in hybrids relative to X. muelleri and expressed the same in X. laevis and hybrids. Cyclin A1 plays a major role in mammalian gametogenesis and meiosis [23] and is a partner of Cdk2, a key gene involved in the cell cycle both in mitosis and meiosis. Female and male knockout Cdk2 mice are viable but both infertile [24]. Curiously, disruption of Cyclin A1 expression results in male infertility but not female infertility and specifically causes the developmental arrest of spermatogenesis during meiosis I [25, 26]. A vitelline envelope glycoprotein, lzpb-a, was upregulated 75 times in hybrids relative to X. muelleri, and vitelline envelope proteins have an obvious role in the formation of oocytes during amphibian oogenesis [27]. Finally, Germes, a gene that localizes to the germ plasm during early oogenesis in Xenopus [28] was upregulated 62 times higher in hybrids compared to X. muelleri.

Perhaps the most surprising result of our analyses is that hybrid females are fertile yet have a dramatic increase in gene misexpression compared to hybrid males which are completely sterile [2]. These results would seem to contradict what we might intuitively predict; specifically that it seems reasonable to assume that normal phenotypes should have greater similarity in expression profiles and perturbed phenotypes should have greater divergence in expression. Hybrid males, which are completely sterile, have only 56 genes misexpressed in testes compared to both parental species whereas hybrid females, which are fertile, have nearly 20 times more genes misexpressed (1,105) in ovaries. However, these results are consistent with patterns of sex-biased gene expression in which female-biased genes were found to be more divergently expressed between species compared to male-biased genes [29] providing further evidence that this pattern represents real biological effects. Thus, we are left with a question, how can the process of oogenesis tolerate such dramatic differences in the level of gene expression, whereas the process of spermatogenesis in hybrid males has relatively few genes misexpressed yet results in complete sterility.

To date, there has been little exploration of this question because studies of gene expression and reproductive isolation have focused on the sterility phenotype which typically involves males. However hybrid females of Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans, which are sterile, have been analyzed and hybrids had a majority of genes misexpressed compared to the two species [30]. Recent work has shown that critical genes involved in mammalian female reproduction undergo rapid diversification due to retrotransposed genes in Mus musculus [31] and these results may provide a clue to the divergent expression pattern occurring in females of Xenopus which could be a general pattern of female reproduction.

Xenopus do not conform to a fundamental generalization in evolutionary biology-Haldane's rule [17]. Patterns of sex-biased gene expression and comparisons between taxa in which the sex chromosome constitution is reversed suggest that the sensitive spermatogenesis component of the faster-male evolution hypothesis [3, 32] is the best explanation for sterile males in Xenopus even though females are the heterogametic sex. Given the divergent pattern of expression in hybrids and females between species, we suggest the following scenario to explain hybrid male sterility in Xenopus.

First, oogenesis relies on a staggering amount of gene expression with up to 45% of all mouse genes and 55% of all Drosophila genes expressed in the mature oocyte [31, 33] and additionally this abundant transcription results in maternally deposited RNAs and proteins which foster oocyte growth and early development [31, 34]. In particular, much of this RNA deposition functions to localize coding and non-coding RNAs essential to germ cell development into a distinct subcellular domain that can be moved into the vegetal cortex of the oocyte. Interestingly, RNAs localized in the germ plasm may not be translated for years highlighting the importance of the germ plasm as a storage unit for RNA and furthermore many of these stored RNAs are involved in translational regulation of germ cell specific expression [3538].

We find dramatic differences in gene expression between females of two species of Xenopus and many of the most dramatic differences have to do with Early/METRO pathway (e.g. Germes, Fatvg, Cyclin A1) of germ plasm specification [38]. These dramatic, sometimes 200 times different, RNA abundance levels indicate a major difference in the amount of key genes involved in germ plasm specification and maternally loaded RNAs between species. This result would suggest that each species has a divergent way of completing oogenesis with regard to gene expression.

During fertilization, sperm fertilize an egg and this starts the dramatic changes that turn the mature oocyte into a functioning zygote [39]. Each sperm delivers a haploid paternal genome along with mature RNA that initiates and directs subsequent development [40]. The interaction between the paternal genome and stored maternal RNA must coevolve in such a way to ensure successful development. Consider now sperm from a different species, adapted for fertilizing eggs of its conspecific species, that now successfully fertilizes an egg from a different species. As our data suggest, the paternal genome will now interact with a radically different embryo with drastically different amounts of stored maternal RNAs. We therefore suggest the possibility that disruption of spermatogenesis in adult hybrid males occurs because of radically divergent expression in females during oogenesis. Oocytes armed with pools of RNA adapted for one species, work in the sense that they can be fertilized and develop but, the initial differences in maternally stored RNAs generate subsequent dysfunctions in males because molecular interactions that generate the adult testis and subsequent spermatogenesis are misregulated due to the differences in maternally stored RNA populations. Spermatogenesis is special in the sense that during early development key factors fail to interact properly to generate a normally functioning testis.

Several genes from our microarray results suggest directions by which this hypothesis could be tested. One example is Cyclin A1 which was upregulated about 200 times more in hybrids and 170 times more in X. laevis compared to X. muelleri. Knocking out Cyclin A1 in mice causes completely sterility and the interaction between Cyclin A1 and cdk2 is crucial for normal development [24, 25]. Cyclin A1 is also known to be maternally deposited in Xenopus and regulates the progression of the cell cycle and apoptosis [41]. Our hypothesis suggests that factors like Cyclin A1 which are loaded into embryos in drastically different amounts may play a role in misdirecting the development of the hybrid testis.

Conclusion

Our work provides an important first glimpse into the expression pattern of hybrid females and parental species. We find an asymmetrical expression pattern similar to the pattern of expression in hybrid male Xenopus and allotetraploid Arabidopsis [2, 42]. However, hybrid females have a dramatic increase in the number of misexpressed genes compared to sterile males and we suggest that this gene expression divergence plays a role in hybrid male sterility. Our results call for attention as to how divergent expression in females plays a role in reproductive isolation between species.

Methods

Microarray Experiments

RNA was extracted from adult ovary in Xenopus laevis (n = 4), hybrids of X. laevis × X. muelleri (n = 2) and X. muelleri (n = 3). Hybrid individuals were produced by crossing maternal X. laevis with paternal X. muelleri. Origin of parents and methodology for creating hybrids has been described elsewhere [2, 29]. Sufficient numbers of normal hybrid females from the reciprocal cross were unable to be produced because the reciprocal cross produces increased mortality and the offspring that survive have a high proportion of limb abnormalities [1]. Individual adults were euthanized with MS-222 and 50 mg of ovary was dissected and homogenized in RNA extraction solution using a hand held pestle. RNA was recovered using GeneHunter and Ambion RiboPure total RNA kits. Samples of RNA were checked for purity by examination of the 28S and 18S ribosomal RNA bands from denaturing gel electrophoresis, by 260/280 ratios from scans with a Nanodrop ND 1000 spectrophotometer, and by readouts of the Agilent Bioanalyzer. Total RNA samples were prepared and hybridized to Affymetrix Xenopus laevis GeneChip Genome Arrays at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Microarray Array Core Facility following standard Affymetrix protocols. Affymetrix Microarray Analysis Suite (MAS) v.5.0 was used to scan and process each microarray chip. The signals of quality control and poly(A) transcripts revealed that hybridizations were of high quality in all chips. Quality control probe sets (i.e., spike in and housekeeping genes) were removed in subsequent statistical analyses. Hybridizing RNA from a heterospecific species to a microarray designed for a related species can have a dramatic impact on the signal recovered from microarrays [4346]. To control for this effect, we used an electronic mask generated from hybridizing genomic DNA from X. laevis and X. muelleri onto the X. laevis microarray [2]. This mask which screens out probes that have significant sequence divergence in X. muelleri provides 11,485 probesets/genes for further analysis.

Data Analysis

We conducted three separate comparisons to uncover patterns of differential expression between Xenopus laevis and hybrids, X. muelleri compared to hybrids, and X. laevis compared to X. muelleri. First, the Xenopus laevis and hybrid chips were normalized using Robust Multichip Averaging (RMA) express software [47] using default parameters for background correction and quantile normalization. These RMA normalized data were then imported into the R statistical environment and tested for differences in expression between X. laevis and hybrids for each of the 11,485 genes using a moderated t-statistic based on an empirical Bayes method in the Limma package found in Bioconductor [48]. The TopTable function was then used to output the False Discovery Rate (FDR)-adjusted P-values and we considered genes with adjusted P-values less than 0.05 to be differentially expressed. Goodness of fit tests (G), based on the difference between the observed and the expected (under the null hypothesis of equal class probabilities) number of genes, were performed to test whether there was enrichment in the number of genes up-regulated in particular comparisons [49]. We normalized X. muelleri and hybrid chips together using RMA and repeated the analyses to uncover differential expression between X. muelleri and hybrids. Finally, we normalized X. laevis and X. muelleri chips together using RMA and repeated the analysis to uncover genes misexpressed between the two species. Separate normalizations were performed for each comparison in keeping with the assumptions of RMA normalization.

Declarations

Acknowledgements

This work was conducted following the protocols of the University of Texas-Arlington Animal Care Committee (Protocol No. A05.001). We thank Professor R. C. Tinsley for donating specimens of Xenopus muelleri for use in this study, Funding was provided by a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant (DEB-0508882) and Texas Academy of Science Student Research Grant to JHM.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Biology, The University of Texas Arlington
(2)
Laboratory of Cellular and Developmental Biology, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services

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© Malone and Michalak; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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