Skip to main content

Data from: Evolutionary divergence of 3’ UTRs in cichlid fishes

Cite this dataset

Xiong, Peiwen; Hulsey, Darrin C.; Meyer, Axel; Franchini, Paolo (2019). Data from: Evolutionary divergence of 3’ UTRs in cichlid fishes [Dataset]. Dryad.


Background: Post-transcriptional regulation is crucial for the control of eukaryotic gene expression and might contribute to adaptive divergence. The three prime untranslated regions (3’ UTRs), that are located downstream of protein-coding sequences, play important roles in post-transcriptional regulation. These regions contain functional elements that influence the fate of mRNAs and could be exceptionally important in groups such as rapidly evolving cichlid fishes. Results: To examine cichlid 3’ UTR evolution, we 1) identified gene features in nine teleost genomes and 2) performed comparative analyses to assess evolutionary variation in length, functional motifs, and evolutionary rates of 3’ UTRs. In all nine teleost genomes, we found a smaller proportion of repetitive elements in 3’ UTRs than in the whole genome. We found that the 3’ UTRs in cichlids tend to be longer than those in non-cichlids, and this was associated, on average, with one more miRNA target per gene in cichlids. Moreover, we provided evidence that 3’ UTRs on average have evolved faster in cichlids than in non-cichlids. Finally, analyses of gene function suggested that both the top 5% longest and 5% most rapidly evolving 3’ UTRs in cichlids tended to be involved in ribosome-associated pathways and translation. Conclusions: Our results reveal novel patterns of evolution in the 3’ UTRs of teleosts in general and cichlids in particular. The data suggest that 3’ UTRs might serve as important meta-regulators, regulators of other mechanisms governing post-transcriptional regulation, especially in groups like cichlids that have undergone extremely fast rates of phenotypic diversification and speciation.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: NA