A-to-I RNA editing in honeybees shows signals of adaptation and convergent evolution

Yuange Duan, Shengqian Dou, Hagit T. Porath, Jiaxing Huang, Eli Eisenberg*, Jian Lu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Social insects exhibit extensive phenotypic diversities among the genetically similar individuals, suggesting a role for the epigenetic regulations beyond the genome level. The ADAR-mediated adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing, an evolutionarily conserved mechanism, facilitates adaptive evolution by expanding proteomic diversities. Here, we characterize the A-to-I RNA editome of honeybees (Apis mellifera), identifying 407 high-confidence A-to-I editing sites. Editing is most abundant in the heads and shows signatures for positive selection. Editing behavior differs between foragers and nurses, suggesting a role for editing in caste differentiation. Although only five sites are conserved between bees and flies, an unexpectedly large number of genes exhibit editing in both species, albeit at different locations, including the nonsynonymous auto-editing of Adar. This convergent evolution, where the same target genes independently acquire recoding events in distant diverged clades, together with the signals of adaptation observed in honeybees alone, further supports the notion of recoding being adaptive.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101983
Issue number1
StatePublished - 22 Jan 2021


FundersFunder number
National Natural Science Foundation of China3201101147, 91731301
Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China2016YFA0500800
Israel Science Foundation3371/20, 1945/18
Peking University


    • Evolutionary Biology
    • Genetic Engineering
    • Genetics
    • Genomics


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