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Trends Genet. 2008 Oct;24(10):481-4. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2008.08.004. Epub 2008 Sep 9.

On the nature of human housekeeping genes.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Genome Sciences and Information, Beijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Using a collection of expressed sequence tag (EST) data, we re-evaluated the correlation of tissue specificity with genomic structure, phyletic age, evolutionary rate and promoter architecture of human genes. We found that housekeeping genes are less compact and older than tissue-specific genes, and they evolve more slowly in terms of both coding and core promoter sequences. Housekeeping genes primarily use CpG-dependent core promoters, whereas the majority of tissue-specific genes possess neither CpG-islands nor TATA-boxes in their core promoters.

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