Feather Development Genes and Associated Regulatory Innovation Predate the Origin of Dinosauria

Citation:

Lowe CB, Clarke JA, Baker AJ, Haussler D, Edwards SV. Feather Development Genes and Associated Regulatory Innovation Predate the Origin of Dinosauria. Molecular Biology and Evolution [Internet]. 2015;32 (1) :23-28.
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Abstract:

The evolution of avian feathers have 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 were present prior to the origin of Dinosauria. On the branch leading to modern birds, we detect a strong signal of regulatory innovation near IGFB P2 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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Last updated on 09/22/2016