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Trends Genet. 2013 Sep;29(9):521-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2013.05.008. Epub 2013 Jun 18.

Ancient cis-regulatory constraints and the evolution of genome architecture.

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  • 1The Donnelly Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The order of genes along metazoan chromosomes has generally been thought to be largely random, with few implications for organismal function. However, two recent studies, reporting hundreds of pairs of genes that have remained linked in diverse metazoan species over hundreds of millions of years of evolution, suggest widespread functional implications for gene order. These associations appear to largely reflect cis-regulatory constraints, with either (i) multiple genes sharing transcriptional regulatory elements, or (ii) regulatory elements for a developmental gene being found within a neighboring 'bystander' gene (known as a genomic regulatory block). We discuss implications, questions raised, and new research directions arising from these studies, as well as evidence for similar phenomena in other eukaryotic groups.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


cis-regulatory element; genome evolution; synteny

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