Allele-specific expression and alternative splicing in horse×donkey and cattle×yak hybrids


Divergence of gene expression and alternative splicing is a crucial driving force in the evolution of species; to date, however the molecular mechanism remains unclear. Hybrids of closely related species provide a suitable model to analyze allele-specific expression (ASE) and allele-specific alternative splicing (ASS). Analysis of ASE and ASS can uncover the differences in cis-regulatory elements between closely related species, while eliminating interference of trans-regulatory elements. Here, we provide a detailed characterization of ASE and ASS from 19 and 10 transcriptome datasets across five tissues from reciprocal-cross hybrids of horse×donkey (mule/hinny) and cattle×yak (dzo), respectively. Results showed that 4.8%-8.7% and 10.8%-16.7% of genes exhibited ASE and ASS, respectively. Notably, lncRNAs and pseudogenes were more likely to show ASE than protein-coding genes. In addition, genes showing ASE and ASS in mule/hinny were found to be involved in the regulation of muscle strength, whereas those of dzo were involved in high-altitude adaptation. In conclusion, our study demonstrated that exploration of genes showing ASE and ASS in hybrids of closely related species is feasible for species evolution research.

Publication Title

Zoological research