Primate Transcript and Protein Expression Levels Evolve under Compensatory Selection Pressures

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Science  17 Oct 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242379

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Changes in gene regulation have likely played an important role in the evolution of primates. Differences in mRNA expression levels across primates have often been documented, however, it is not yet known to what extent measurements of divergence in mRNA levels reflect divergence in protein expression levels, which are probably more important in determining phenotypic differences. We used high-resolution, quantitative mass spectrometry to collect protein expression measurements from human, chimpanzee, and rhesus macaque lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) and compared them to transcript expression data from the same samples. We found dozens of genes with significant expression differences between species at the mRNA level yet little or no difference in protein expression. Overall, our data suggest that protein expression levels evolve under stronger evolutionary constraint than mRNA levels.

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