Feather development genes and associated regulatory innovation predate the origin of Dinosauria.

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2015-01

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Abstract

The evolution of avian feathers has recently been illuminated by fossils and the identification of genes involved in feather patterning and morphogenesis. However, molecular studies have focused mainly on protein-coding genes. Using comparative genomics and more than 600,000 conserved regulatory elements, we show that patterns of genome evolution in the vicinity of feather genes are consistent with a major role for regulatory innovation in the evolution of feathers. Rates of innovation at feather regulatory elements exhibit an extended period of innovation with peaks in the ancestors of amniotes and archosaurs. We estimate that 86% of such regulatory elements and 100% of the nonkeratin feather gene set were present prior to the origin of Dinosauria. On the branch leading to modern birds, we detect a strong signal of regulatory innovation near insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP) 2 and IGFBP5, which have roles in body size reduction, and may represent a genomic signature for the miniaturization of dinosaurian body size preceding the origin of flight.

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10.1093/molbev/msu309

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Lowe, Craig B, Julia A Clarke, Allan J Baker, David Haussler and Scott V Edwards (2015). Feather development genes and associated regulatory innovation predate the origin of Dinosauria. Molecular biology and evolution, 32(1). pp. 23–28. 10.1093/molbev/msu309 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/17411.

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Lowe

Craig Lowe

Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Craig Lowe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.  His research interests are in understanding how traits and characteristics of humans, and other vertebrates, are encoded in their genomes.  He is especially focused on adaptations and disease susceptibilities that are unique to humans.  To address these questions, Craig uses both computational and experimental approaches.  Craig's recent research has been on differences in how genes are regulated between species, or between different individuals within a species, and how this causes traits to differ.  All students in Craig's lab are exposed to an interdisciplinary environment; current lab members have backgrounds in mathematics, computer science, neuroscience, developmental biology, and genetics.  Each year Craig teaches one or two courses on rotating topics of: ancient DNA, ethical issues in genomics, and software development for genetic analyses.


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