Comparative genomics of Steinernema reveals deeply conserved gene regulatory networks

Adler R. Dillman, Marissa Macchietto, Camille F. Porter, Alicia Rogers, Brian Williams, Igor Antoshechkin, Ming Min Lee, Zane Goodwin, Xiaojun Lu, Edwin E. Lewis, Heidi Goodrich-Blair, S. Patricia Stock, Byron J. Adams, Paul W. Sternberg, Ali Mortazavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Parasitism is a major ecological niche for a variety of nematodes. Multiple nematode lineages have specialized as pathogens, including deadly parasites of insects that are used in biological control. We have sequenced and analyzed the draft genomes and transcriptomes of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae and four congeners (S. scapterisci, S. monticolum, S. feltiae, and S. glaseri). Results: We used these genomes to establish phylogenetic relationships, explore gene conservation across species, and identify genes uniquely expanded in insect parasites. Protein domain analysis in Steinernema revealed a striking expansion of numerous putative parasitism genes, including certain protease and protease inhibitor families, as well as fatty acid- and retinol-binding proteins. Stage-specific gene expression of some of these expanded families further supports the notion that they are involved in insect parasitism by Steinernema. We show that sets of novel conserved non-coding regulatory motifs are associated with orthologous genes in Steinernema and Caenorhabditis. Conclusions: We have identified a set of expanded gene families that are likely to be involved in parasitism. We have also identified a set of non-coding motifs associated with groups of orthologous genes in Steinernema and Caenorhabditis involved in neurogenesis and embryonic development that are likely part of conserved protein-DNA relationships shared between these two genera.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number200
JournalGenome biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 21 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, for which PWS is an investigator. ARD was supported by NIH training grants (5T32GM007616 and 5T32HG000044). AM and MM were supported by an NIH New Innovator Award to AM (DP2 GM111100). XL was supported by the UW-Madison Graduate School research funds.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Dillman et al.


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