Evolutionary implications of the RNA N6-methyladenosine methylome in plants


Epigenetic modifications play important roles in genome evolution and innovation. However, most analyses have focused on the evolutionary role of DNA modifications, and little is understood about the influence of post-transcriptional RNA modifications on genome evolution. To explore the evolutionary significance of RNA modifications, we generated transcriptome-wide profiles of N6-methyladenosine (m6A), the most prevalent internal modification of mRNA, for 13 representative plant species spanning over half a billion years of evolution. These data reveal the evolutionary conservation and divergence of m6A methylomes in plants, uncover the preference of m6A modifications on ancient orthologous genes, and demonstrate less m6A divergence between orthologous gene pairs with earlier evolutionary origins. Further investigation revealed that the evolutionary divergence of m6A modifications is related to sequence variation between homologs from whole genome duplication and gene family expansion from local genome duplication. Unexpectedly, a significant negative correlation was found between the retention ratio of m6A modifications and the number of family members. Moreover, the divergence of m6A modifications is accompanied by variation in the expression level and translation efficiency of duplicated genes from whole and local genome duplication. Our work reveals new insights into evolutionary patterns of m6A methylomes in plant species and their implications, and provides a resource of plant m6A profiles for further studies of m6A regulation and function in an evolutionary context.

Molecular Biology and Evolution
Zhenyan Miao
Associate Professor