Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
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The genetic basis of evolutionary change in gene expression levels

J. J. Emerson

J. J. Emerson

Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei 115, Taiwan, Republic of China

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Wen-Hsiung Li

Wen-Hsiung Li

Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei 115, Taiwan, Republic of China

Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei 115, Taiwan, Republic of China

Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA

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    The regulation of gene expression is an important determinant of organismal phenotype and evolution. However, the widespread recognition of this fact occurred long after the synthesis of evolution and genetics. Here, we give a brief sketch of thoughts regarding gene regulation in the history of evolution and genetics. We then review the development of genome-wide studies of gene regulatory variation in the context of the location and mode of action of the causative genetic changes. In particular, we review mapping of the genetic basis of expression variation through expression quantitative trait locus studies and measuring the cis/trans component of expression variation in allele-specific expression studies. We conclude by proposing a systematic integration of ideas that combines global mapping studies, cis/trans tests and modern population genetics methodologies, in order to directly estimate the forces acting on regulatory variation within and between species.

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