Functional divergence of a heterochromatin-binding protein during stickleback speciation

Kohta Yoshida, Asano Ishikawa, Atsushi Toyoda, Shuji Shigenobu, Asao Fujiyama, Jun Kitano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Intragenomic conflict, the conflict of interest between different genomic regions within an individual, is proposed as a mechanism driving both the rapid evolution of heterochromatin-related proteins and the establishment of intrinsic genomic incompatibility between species. Although molecular studies of laboratory model organisms have demonstrated the link between heterochromatin evolution and hybrid abnormalities, we know little about their link in natural systems. Previously, we showed that F 1 hybrids between the Japan Sea stickleback and the Pacific Ocean stickleback show hybrid male sterility and found a region responsible for hybrid male sterility on the X chromosome, but did not identify any candidate genes. In this study, we first screened for genes rapidly evolving under positive selection during the speciation of Japanese sticklebacks to find genes possibly involved in intragenomic conflict. We found that the region responsible for hybrid male sterility contains a rapidly evolving gene encoding a heterochromatin-binding protein TRIM24B. We conducted biochemical experiments and showed that the binding affinity of TRIM24B to a heterochromatin mark found at centromeres and transposons, histone H4 lysine 20 trimethylation (H4K20me3), is reduced in the Japan Sea stickleback. In addition, mRNA expression levels of Trim24b were different between the Japan Sea and the Pacific Ocean testes. Further expression analysis of genes possibly in the TRIM24B-regulated pathway showed that some gypsy retrotransposons are overexpressed in the F 1 hybrid testes. We, therefore, demonstrate that a heterochromatin-binding protein can evolve rapidly under positive selection and functionally diverge during stickleback speciation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1563-1578
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • centromere drive
  • meiotic drive
  • selfish gene
  • subfunctionalization
  • ubiquitination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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