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Comparative genomics and regulatory evolution: Conservation and function of the Chs and Apetala3 promoters

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Koch, M. A., Weisshaar, B., Kroymann, J., Haubold, B., & Mitchell-Olds, T. (2001). Comparative genomics and regulatory evolution: Conservation and function of the Chs and Apetala3 promoters. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 18(10), 1882-1891.

DNA sequence variations of chalcone synthase (Chs) and Apetala3 gene promoters from 22 cruciferous plant species were analyzed to identify putative conserved regulatory elements. Our comparative approach confirmed the existence of numerous conserved sequences which may act as regulatory elements in both investigated promoters. To confirm the correct identification of a well-conserved UV-Light-responsive promoter region, a subset of Chs promoter fragments were tested in Arabidopsis thaliana protoplasts. All promoters displayed similar light responsivenesses, indicating the general functional relevance of the conserved regulatory element. In addition to known regulatory elements, other highly conserved regions were detected which are likely to be of functional importance. Phylogenetic trees based on DNA sequences from both promoters (gene trees) were compared with the hypothesized phylogenetic relationships (species trees) of these taxa. The data derived from both promoter sequences were congruent with the phylogenies obtained from coding regions of other nuclear genes and from chloroplast DNA sequences. This indicates that promoter sequence evolution generally is reflective of species phylogeny. Our study also demonstrates the great value of comparative genomics and phylogenetics as a basis for functional analysis of promoter action and gene regulation.