Non-random expression of ribosomal DNA units in a grasshopper showing high intragenomic variation for the ITS2 region

M. Ruiz-Estévez, F. J. Ruiz-Ruano, J. Cabrero, M. Bakkali, F. Perfectti, M. D. Lõpez-Leõn, J. P.M. Camacho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We analyse intragenomic variation of the ITS2 internal transcribed spacer of ribosomal DNA (rDNA) in the grasshopper Eyprepocnemis plorans, by means of tagged PCR 454 amplicon sequencing performed on both genomic DNA (gDNA) and RNA-derived complementary DNA (cDNA), using part of the ITS2 flanking coding regions (5.8S and 28S rDNA) as an internal control for sequencing errors. Six different ITS2 haplotypes (i.e. variants for at least one nucleotide in the complete ITS2 sequence) were found in a single population, one of them (Hap4) being specific to a supernumerary (B) chromosome. The analysis of both gDNA and cDNA from the same individuals provided an estimate of the expression efficiency of the different haplotypes. We found random expression (i.e. about similar recovery in gDNA and cDNA) for three haplotypes (Hap1, Hap2 and Hap5), but significant underexpression for three others (Hap3, Hap4 and Hap6). Hap4 was the most extremely underexpressed and, remarkably, it showed the lowest sequence conservation for the flanking 5.8-28S coding regions in the gDNA reads but the highest conservation (100%) in the cDNA ones, suggesting the preferential expression of mutation-free rDNA units carrying this ITS2 haplotype. These results indicate that the ITS2 region of rDNA is far from complete homogenization in this species, and that the different rDNA units are not expressed at random, with some of them being severely downregulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
JournalInsect molecular biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Royal Entomological Society.


  • Amplicon sequencing
  • B chromosomes
  • ITS2
  • rDNA expression


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