Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Patrick Ferree

Reader 2

Findley Finseth

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2021 Tanima N. Joshi


Post-translational chemical modifications of histones, the proteins that package DNA, are a key component of the “language” of epigenetics. SET (Suppressor of Variegation 39, Enhancer of Zeste, Trithorax) domain-containing proteins are crucial enzymes that establish histone methylations as a major part of the histone code. Studies using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model organism have provided most of the known information on SET genes/protein diversity and function in insects. To expand our knowledge of this important protein family, I identified all SET domain-containing genes in a select group of insects belonging to the Hymenoptera order: wasps, bees, ants, and sawflies. I investigated whether the number of SET genes correlated with factors that contributed to genome complexity. Species with sex chromosomes and greater number of total genes within their genome tended to have a greater number of SET genes, while overall genome size (in Mb of DNA) and number of chromosomes did not. An outlier to these trends was the jewel wasp, Nasonia vitripennis, with far more SET genes than any other examined species. Phylogenetic comparisons between the jewel wasp and species of varying relation to it revealed that SET and MYND (Myeloid, Nervy, and DEAF-1) and Lysine Methyltransferase 5 (KMT5) genes expanded extensively in the jewel wasp compared to other species, suggesting that diversification of these gene families has played an important role in genome function in this organism. Studying chromatin remodelers such as SET domain-containing proteins can further our understanding of the dynamics of genome evolution and factors that impact epigenetics and life-threatening diseases such as cancer.