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Functional Architecture and Evolution of Transcriptional Elements That Drive Gene Coexpression

Science  14 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5844, pp. 1557-1560
DOI: 10.1126/science.1145893

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Abstract

Transcriptional coexpression of interacting gene products is required for complex molecular processes; however, the function and evolution of cis-regulatory elements that orchestrate coexpression remain largely unexplored. We mutagenized 19 regulatory elements that drive coexpression of Ciona muscle genes and obtained quantitative estimates of the cis-regulatory activity of the 77 motifs that comprise these elements. We found that individual motif activity ranges broadly within and among elements, and among different instantiations of the same motif type. The activity of orthologous motifs is strongly constrained, although motif arrangement, type, and activity vary greatly among the elements of different co-regulated genes. Thus, the syntactical rules governing this regulatory function are flexible but become highly constrained evolutionarily once they are established in a particular element.

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