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Adaptive substitutions underlying cardiac glycoside insensitivity in insects exhibit epistasis in vivo

By Andrew M. Taverner, Lu Yang, Zackery J Barile, Becky Lin, Julie Peng, Ana Pinharanda, Arya Rao, Bartholomew P. Roland, Aaron D Talsma, Daniel Wei, Georg Petschenka, Michael J. Palladino, Peter Andolfatto

Posted 28 Apr 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/621185 (published DOI: 10.7554/eLife.48224)

Predicting how species will respond to selection pressures requires understanding the factors that constrain their evolution. We use genome engineering of Drosophila to investigate constraints on the repeated evolution of unrelated herbivorous insects to toxic cardiac glycosides, which primarily occurs via a small subset of possible functionally-relevant substitutions to Na+,K+-ATPase. Surprisingly, we find that frequently observed adaptive substitutions at two sites, 111 and 122, are lethal when homozygous and adult heterozygotes exhibit dominant neural dysfunction. We identify a phylogenetically correlated substitution, A119S, that partially ameliorates the deleterious effects of substitutions at 111 and 122. Despite contributing little to cardiac glycoside-insensitivity in vitro , A119S, like substitutions at 111 and 122, substantially increases adult survivorship upon cardiac glycoside exposure. Our results demonstrate the importance of epistasis in constraining adaptive paths. Moreover, by revealing distinct effects of substitutions in vitro and in vivo , our results underscore the importance of evaluating the fitness of adaptive substitutions and their interactions in whole organisms.

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