Transcription factors help distinguish humans

Most gene expression is under stabilizing selection in primates, but humans show directional evolution of regulatory genes

Melissa Lee Phillips
Mar 8, 2006
Transcription factor expression levels are evolving faster in humans than in other primates, reports a study in this week's Nature. Since transcription factors affect the actions of many downstream genes, rapid evolution of transcription factor expression may in part underlie the dramatic phenotypic differences between humans and chimpanzees, according to the authors."It helps to explain the paradox of very few changes in the protein-coding complement of the genome" between humans and chimpanzees, said senior author Kevin White of Yale University. "That has to be responsible for major changes in morphology and in lifestyle."Led by first author Yoav Gilad, now at the University of Chicago, the authors created a multi-species DNA microarray of 1,056 corresponding genes expressed in the liver of four primate species: humans, chimpanzees, orangutans, and rhesus macaques. The authors picked out genes that were expressed at a different level in humans than in the other...

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