Friday, August 07, 2009

The genome, more than coding   posted by Razib @ 8/07/2009 06:12:00 PM

Evolutionary Processes Acting on Candidate cis-Regulatory Regions in Humans Inferred from Patterns of Polymorphism and Divergence. Let me just jump to the final paragraph since that's probably what most readers are curious about:
Our analysis of human polymorphism and divergence in conserved non-coding sites suggests that the evolution of candidate cis-regulatory regions is often driven by both positive and negative selection. Our findings reinforce the idea that the non-coding portion of our genome has an important functional and evolutionary role, and suggest that patterns of natural selection in non-coding DNA are often distinct from that of protein-coding regions. Many of the adaptive changes in candidate cis-regulatory regions might have occurred near genes expressed in the fetal brain, supporting the hypothesis that the evolution of the developing brain may be largely attributable to changes in gene regulation. Our results add to the increasing evidence that non-coding DNA is not all selectively neutral, and that selection on candidate cis-regulatory regions has played an important role throughout hominid evolution.

Gene regulation has of course been one possible solution to how humans can be so phenotypically different from chimpanzees despite close sequence level identity.

Related: Dissecting the regulatory differences between human and chimp.

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