Next Article in Journal
The Population Genomics of Sunflowers and Genomic Determinants of Protein Evolution Revealed by RNAseq
Next Article in Special Issue
The Role of DNA Methylation in Common Skeletal Disorders
Previous Article in Journal
Recent Advances and Future Perspectives in Microbial Phototrophy in Antarctic Sea Ice
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessReview
Biology 2012, 1(3), 557-574;

Changes in Cis-regulatory Elements during Morphological Evolution

The Babraham Institute, Babraham, Cambridge, CB22 3AT, UK
Laboratory for Development and Evolution, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EJ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 July 2012 / Revised: 30 August 2012 / Accepted: 9 October 2012 / Published: 25 October 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gene Expression and Regulation)
PDF [333 KB, uploaded 25 October 2012]


How have animals evolved new body designs (morphological evolution)? This requires explanations both for simple morphological changes, such as differences in pigmentation and hair patterns between different Drosophila populations and species, and also for more complex changes, such as differences in the forelimbs of mice and bats, and the necks of amphibians and reptiles. The genetic changes and pathways involved in these evolutionary steps require identification. Many, though not all, of these events occur by changes in cis-regulatory (enhancer) elements within developmental genes. Enhancers are modular, each affecting expression in only one or a few tissues. Therefore it is possible to add, remove or alter an enhancer without producing changes in multiple tissues, and thereby avoid widespread (pleiotropic) deleterious effects. Ideally, for a given step in morphological evolution it is necessary to identify (i) the change in phenotype, (ii) the changes in gene expression, (iii) the DNA region, enhancer or otherwise, affected, (iv) the mutation involved, (v) the nature of the transcription or other factors that bind to this site. In practice these data are incomplete for most of the published studies upon morphological evolution. Here, the investigations are categorized according to how far these analyses have proceeded. View Full-Text
Keywords: morphological evolution; gene expression; gene regulation; cis-regulatory elements; CREs; enhancers morphological evolution; gene expression; gene regulation; cis-regulatory elements; CREs; enhancers

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Gaunt, S.J.; Paul, Y.-L. Changes in Cis-regulatory Elements during Morphological Evolution. Biology 2012, 1, 557-574.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Biology EISSN 2079-7737 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top