Deep conservation of cis-regulatory elements in metazoans. Academic Article uri icon


  • Despite the vast morphological variation observed across phyla, animals share multiple basic developmental processes orchestrated by a common ancestral gene toolkit. These genes interact with each other building complex gene regulatory networks (GRNs), which are encoded in the genome by cis-regulatory elements (CREs) that serve as computational units of the network. Although GRN subcircuits involved in ancient developmental processes are expected to be at least partially conserved, identification of CREs that are conserved across phyla has remained elusive. Here, we review recent studies that revealed such deeply conserved CREs do exist, discuss the difficulties associated with their identification and describe new approaches that will facilitate this search.

publication date

  • December 19, 2013