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Brain Res Bull. 2008 Mar 18;75(2-4):225-30. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2007.11.010. Epub 2007 Dec 18.

Conserved non-coding sequences and transcriptional regulation.

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Institute of Toxicology and Genetics, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Postfach 3640, 76021 Karlsruhe, Germany.


Genes coding for transcription factors and developmental regulators have a high likelihood to harbour cis-regulatory regions that are structurally conserved among orthologous genes in the vertebrate lineage. These regions can span up to several hundred basepairs with 70 and more percent sequence identity between fish and mammals. Even though this conservation is an efficient tool to discover cis-regulatory regions, we know little about why these specific genes maintain such highly conserved regulatory sequences. Here, we summarise work of the past few years on the regulatory modules of the sonic hedgehog and neurogenin1 genes. We will discuss the high sequence conservation of the regulatory elements in the context of models of enhancer evolution. Our data suggest that conservation of sequence does not necessarily imply a conserved function in other vertebrates.

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