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Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Jan;22(1):40-50. Epub 2004 Sep 8.

Comparative methods for the analysis of gene-expression evolution: an example using yeast functional genomic data.

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Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, USA.


Understanding the evolution of gene function is a primary challenge of modern evolutionary biology. Despite an expanding database from genomic and developmental studies, we are lacking quantitative methods for analyzing the evolution of some important measures of gene function, such as gene-expression patterns. Here, we introduce phylogenetic comparative methods to compare different models of gene-expression evolution in a maximum-likelihood framework. We find that expression of duplicated genes has evolved according to a nonphylogenetic model, where closely related genes are no more likely than more distantly related genes to share common expression patterns. These results are consistent with previous studies that found rapid evolution of gene expression during the history of yeast. The comparative methods presented here are general enough to test a wide range of evolutionary hypotheses using genomic-scale data from any organism.

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