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Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Oct;22(10):2113-8. Epub 2005 Jun 29.

Gene expression evolves faster in narrowly than in broadly expressed mammalian genes.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, USA.


Despite much recent interest, it remains unclear what determines the rate of evolution of gene expression. To study this issue we develop a new measure, called "Expression Conservation Index" (ECI), to quantify the degree of tissue-expression conservation between two homologous genes. Applying this measure to a large set of gene expression data from human and mouse, we show that tissue expression tends to evolve rapidly for genes that are expressed in only a limited number of tissues, whereas tissue expression can be conserved for a long time for genes expressed in a large number of tissues. Therefore, expression breadth is an important determinant for evolutionary conservation of tissue expression. In addition, we find a rapid decrease in ECI with the synonymous divergence between duplicate genes, suggesting fast divergence in tissue expression between duplicate genes.

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