Five-Vertebrate ChIP-seq Reveals the Evolutionary Dynamics of Transcription Factor Binding

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Science  08 Apr 2010:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1186176


Transcription factors (TFs) direct gene expression by binding to DNA regulatory regions. To explore the evolution of gene regulation, we experimentally determined the genome-wide occupancy of two TFs, CEBPA and HNF4A, in livers of five vertebrates. Although each TF displays highly conserved DNA binding preferences, most binding is species-specific, and aligned binding events present in all five species are rare. Regions near genes with expression levels dependent on a TF are often bound by the TF in multiple species, yet show no enhanced DNA sequence constraint. Binding divergence between species can be largely explained by sequence changes to the bound motifs. Among the binding events lost in one lineage, only half are recovered by another binding event within 10 kilobases. Our results reveal large interspecies differences in transcriptional regulation and provide insight into their evolution.