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Heredity (Edinb). 2006 Sep;97(3):139-47. Epub 2006 Jul 19.

Evolution of cis-regulatory sequence and function in Diptera.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, 1061 Natural Science Building, 830 North University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1048, USA.


Cis-regulatory sequences direct patterns of gene expression essential for development and physiology. Evolutionary changes in these sequences contribute to phenotypic divergence. Despite their importance, cis-regulatory regions remain one of the most enigmatic features of the genome. Patterns of sequence evolution can be used to identify cis-regulatory elements, but the power of this approach depends upon the relationship between sequence and function. Comparative studies of gene regulation among Diptera reveal that divergent sequences can underlie conserved expression, and that expression differences can evolve despite largely similar sequences. This complex structure-function relationship is the primary impediment for computational identification and interpretation of cis-regulatory sequences. Biochemical characterization and in vivo assays of cis-regulatory sequences on a genomic-scale will relieve this barrier.

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