Old Genes, New Tricks

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For decades, scientists have understood that the process of evolution involves changes in protein-coding genes: mutations can change a gene's instructions, making it code for a protein with a slightly different function.

The modification of gene switches provides another avenue for evolutionary change. Often just a few base pairs long, switches regulate the timing, location, and level of protein expression—without affecting the protein itself. Small changes to switches can produce dramatic outcomes.

 MISCONCEPTION
The evolution of new physical structures requires new genes.

 REALITY
Evolution frequently reuses old genes in new ways.
References

References

References

Doebley, J., Stec, A. & Hubbard, L. (1997).The evolution of apical dominance in maize.Nature, 386, 485-488 (subscription required).

Gompel, N., Prud'homme, B., Wittkopp, P. J., Kassner, V. A. & Carroll, S. B. (2005).Chance caught on the wing: cis-regulatory evolution and the origin of pigment patterns in Drosophila.Nature, 433, 481-487 (subscription required).

Prud'homme, B., Gompel, N., Rokas, A., Kassner, V. A., Williams, T. M., Yeh, S., True, J. R. & Carroll, S. B. (2006).Repeated morphological evolution through cis-regulatory changes in a pleiotropic gene.Nature, 440, 1050-1053 (subscription required).

Shapiro, M. D., Bell, M. A. & Kingsley, D. M. (2006).Parallel genetic origins of pelvic reduction in vertebrates.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 103 (37), 13753-13758 (subscription required).

Lanctot, C., Moreau, A., Chamberland, M., Tremblay, M. L. & Drouin, J. (1999).Hindlimb patterning and mandible development require the Ptx1 gene.Development, 126, 1805-1810 (subscription required).

  • Funding

    Funding provided by grant 51006109 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Precollege Science Education Initiative for Biomedical Research.


APA format:

Genetic Science Learning Center. (2016, March 1) Old Genes, New Tricks. Retrieved October 22, 2021, from https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/newtricks/

CSE format:

Old Genes, New Tricks [Internet]. Salt Lake City (UT): Genetic Science Learning Center; 2016 [cited 2021 Oct 22] Available from https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/newtricks/

Chicago format:

Genetic Science Learning Center. "Old Genes, New Tricks." Learn.Genetics. March 1, 2016. Accessed October 22, 2021. https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/newtricks/.