Histone deacetylases control module-specific phenotypic plasticity in beetle weapons

Takane Ozawa, Tomoko Mizuhara, Masataka Arata, Masakazu Shimada, Teruyuki Niimi, Kensuke Okada, Yasukazu Okada, Kunihiro Ohta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Nutritional conditions during early development influence the plastic expression of adult phenotypes. Among several body modules of animals, the development of sexually selected exaggerated traits exhibits striking nutrition sensitivity, resulting in positive allometry and hypervariability distinct from other traits. Using de novo RNA sequencing and comprehensive RNA interference (RNAi) for epigenetic modifying factors, we found that histone deacetylases (HDACs) and polycomb group (PcG) proteins preferentially influence the size of mandibles (exaggerated male weapon) and demonstrate nutrition-dependent hypervariability in the broad-horned flour beetle, Gnatocerus cornutus. RNAi-mediated HDAC1 knockdown (KD) in G. cornutus larvae caused specific curtailment of mandibles in adults, whereas HDAC3 KD led to hypertrophy. Notably, these KDs conferred opposite effects on wing size, but little effect on the size of the core body and genital modules. PcG RNAi also reduced adult mandible size. These results suggest that the plastic development of exaggerated traits is controlled in a module-specific manner by HDACs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15042-15047
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number52
Publication statusPublished - Dec 27 2016


  • Exaggerated male weapon
  • Gnatocerus cornutus
  • HDAC
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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