Conservation of mRNA and protein expression during development of C. elegans


  • D. Grün
  • M. Kirchner
  • N. Thierfelder
  • M. Stoeckius
  • M. Selbach
  • N. Rajewsky


  • Cell Reports


  • Cell Rep 6 (3): 565-577


  • Spatiotemporal control of gene expression is crucial for development and subject to evolutionary changes. Although proteins are the final product of most genes, the developmental proteome of an animal has not yet been comprehensively defined, and the correlation between mRNA and protein abundance during development is largely unknown. Here, we globally measured and compared protein and mRNA expression changes during the life cycle of the nematodes C. elegans and C. briggsae, separated by ~30 million years of evolution. We observed that developmental mRNA and protein changes were highly conserved to a surprisingly similar degree but were poorly correlated within a species, suggesting important and widespread posttranscriptional regulation. Posttranscriptional control was particularly well conserved if mRNA fold changes were buffered on the protein level, indicating a predominant repressive function. Finally, among divergently expressed genes, we identified insulin signaling, a pathway involved in lifespan determination, as a putative target of adaptive evolution.