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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2014 Dec;29:68-74. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2014.08.010. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

Comparative studies of gene regulatory mechanisms.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States.
Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, United States. Electronic address:


It has become increasingly clear that changes in gene regulation have played an important role in adaptive evolution both between and within species. Over the past five years, comparative studies have moved beyond simple characterizations of differences in gene expression levels within and between species to studying variation in regulatory mechanisms. We still know relatively little about the precise chain of events that lead to most regulatory adaptations, but we have taken significant steps towards understanding the relative importance of changes in different mechanisms of gene regulatory evolution. In this review, we first discuss insights from comparative studies in model organisms, where the available experimental toolkit is extensive. We then focus on a few recent comparative studies in primates, where the limited feasibility of experimental manipulation dictates the approaches that can be used to study gene regulatory evolution.

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