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Nat Genet. 2011 May;43(5):414-20. doi: 10.1038/ng.808. Epub 2011 Apr 10.

High conservation of transcription factor binding and evidence for combinatorial regulation across six Drosophila species.

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Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.


The binding of some transcription factors has been shown to diverge substantially between closely related species. Here we show that the binding of the developmental transcription factor Twist is highly conserved across six Drosophila species, revealing strong functional constraints at its enhancers. Conserved binding correlates with sequence motifs for Twist and its partners, permitting the de novo discovery of their combinatorial binding. It also includes over 10,000 low-occupancy sites near the detection limit, which tend to mark enhancers of later developmental stages. These results suggest that developmental enhancers can be highly evolutionarily constrained, presumably because of their complex combinatorial nature.

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