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Contribution of Epigenetic Mechanisms in the Regulation of Environmentally-Induced Polyphenism in Insects

Abstract : Many insect species display a remarkable ability to produce discrete phenotypes in response to changes in environmental conditions. Such phenotypic plasticity is referred to as polyphenism. Seasonal, dispersal and caste polyphenisms correspond to the most-studied examples that are environmentally-induced in insects. Cues that induce such dramatic phenotypic changes are very diverse, ranging from seasonal cues, habitat quality changes or differential larval nutrition. Once these signals are perceived, they are transduced by the neuroendocrine system towards their target tissues where gene expression reprogramming underlying phenotypic changes occur. Epigenetic mechanisms are key regulators that allow for genome expression plasticity associated with such developmental switches. These mechanisms include DNA methylation, chromatin remodelling and histone post-transcriptional modifications (PTMs) as well as non-coding RNAs and have been studied to various extents in insect polyphenism. Differential patterns of DNA methylation between phenotypes are usually correlated with changes in gene expression and alternative splicing events, especially in the cases of dispersal and caste polyphenism. Combinatorial patterns of histone PTMs provide phenotype-specific epigenomic landscape associated with the expression of specific transcriptional programs, as revealed during caste determination in honeybees and ants. Alternative phenotypes are also usually associated with specific non-coding RNA profiles. This review will provide a summary of the current knowledge of the epigenetic changes associated with polyphenism in insects and highlights the potential for these mechanisms to be key regulators of developmental transitions triggered by environmental cues.
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Contributor : Anne-Sophie Grenier <>
Submitted on : Thursday, August 12, 2021 - 9:20:34 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, August 14, 2021 - 3:08:33 AM

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Gautier Richard, Julie Jaquiéry, Gaël Le Trionnaire. Contribution of Epigenetic Mechanisms in the Regulation of Environmentally-Induced Polyphenism in Insects. Insects, MDPI, 2021, 12 (7), pp.649. ⟨10.3390/insects12070649⟩. ⟨hal-03319288⟩



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