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Review Article The Evolution of Transcriptional Regulation in Eukaryotes

Summary: Review Article
The Evolution of Transcriptional Regulation in Eukaryotes
Gregory A. Wray, Matthew W. Hahn, Ehab Abouheif, James P. Balhoff, Margaret Pizer,
Matthew V. Rockman, and Laura A. Romano
Department of Biology, Duke University
Gene expression is central to the genotype-phenotype relationship in all organisms, and it is an important component of
the genetic basis for evolutionary change in diverse aspects of phenotype. However, the evolution of transcriptional
regulation remains understudied and poorly understood. Here we review the evolutionary dynamics of promoter, or cis-
regulatory, sequences and the evolutionary mechanisms that shape them. Existing evidence indicates that populations
harbor extensive genetic variation in promoter sequences, that a substantial fraction of this variation has consequences for
both biochemical and organismal phenotype, and that some of this functional variation is sorted by selection. As with
protein-coding sequences, rates and patterns of promoter sequence evolution differ considerably among loci and among
clades for reasons that are not well understood. Studying the evolution of transcriptional regulation poses empirical and
conceptual challenges beyond those typically encountered in analyses of coding sequence evolution: promoter or-
ganization is much less regular than that of coding sequences, and sequences required for the transcription of each locus
reside at multiple other loci in the genome. Because of the strong context-dependence of transcriptional regulation,
sequence inspection alone provides limited information about promoter function. Understanding the functional con-
sequences of sequence differences among promoters generally requires biochemical and in vivo functional assays.
Despite these challenges, important insights have already been gained into the evolution of transcriptional regulation, and
the pace of discovery is accelerating.


Source: Abouheif, Ehab - Department of Biology, McGill University
Hahn, Matthew - School of Informatics & Department of Biology, Indiana University
Rockman, Matthew - Center for Genomics and Systems Biology & Department of Biology, New York University


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Biotechnology; Environmental Sciences and Ecology