Evolution of gene regulation--on the road towards computational inferences

G. Fuellen
2010 Briefings in Bioinformatics  
If fragments of DNA are transcribed (expressed), they deserve to be called (parts of) a gene. Whether transcription takes place depends on the 'gene regulatory network'. This network is defined as the complex interplay of the sequence, biochemical modifications and structure of the chromosomal DNA with the regulatory proteins/RNA (transcription factors, co-factors, regulating RNA and the transcriptional apparatus itself). Gene regulatory networks play a role in various stages of development as
more » ... ell as in the maintenance of the organism; in this review we will concentrate on the former. Their evolutionary reconstruction is daunting (to say the least), and bioinformatics tools are in their infancy. However, gain of understanding offers a reward beyond itself, since evolutionary considerations can enable discoveries in the first place, e.g. the computational identification of conserved transcription factor binding sites. We discuss the evolution of gene regulation in the context of the 'Genetic Theory of Morphological Evolution' as described by Carroll, identifying those parts of the theory that are relevant for bioinformatics, and their implications. We discuss the important question of how bioinformatics analysis results on the evolution of gene regulation may be validated. Finally, we briefly exemplify use of the UCSC genome browser, exploiting its pre-computed alignments to describe the evolution of gene regulation.
doi:10.1093/bib/bbq060 pmid:20702596 fatcat:iul5uujtdvafzcthc64eorcv5y