Friday, August 20, 2010

influence of genetic variation

The view that changes to the control of gene expression rather than alterations to protein sequence are central to the evolution of organisms has become something of a truism in molecular biology. In reality, the direct evidence for this is limited, and only recently have we had the ability to look more globally at how genetic variation influences gene expression, focusing upon inter-individual variation in gene expression and using microarrays to test for differences in mRNA levels. Here, we review the scope of these experimental analyses, what they are designed to tell us about genetic variation, and what are their limitations from both a technical and a conceptual viewpoint. We conclude that while we are starting to understand the impact of this class of genetic variation upon steady-state mRNA levels, we are still far from identifying the potential phenotypic and evolutionary outcomes.

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