Indexed on: 26 Dec '12Published on: 26 Dec '12Published in: Genome biology and evolution
Vertebrate genomes include gene regulatory elements in protein-noncoding regions. A part of gene regulatory elements are expected to be conserved according to their functional importance, so that evolutionarily conserved noncoding sequences (CNSs) might be good candidates for those elements. In addition, paralogous CNSs, which are highly conserved among both orthologous loci and paralogous loci, have the possibility of controlling overlapping expression patterns of their adjacent paralogous protein-coding genes. The two-round whole-genome duplications (2R WGDs), which most probably occurred in the vertebrate common ancestors, generated large numbers of paralogous protein-coding genes and their regulatory elements. These events could contribute to the emergence of vertebrate features. However, the evolutionary history and influences of the 2R WGDs are still unclear, especially in noncoding regions. To address this issue, we identified paralogous CNSs. Region-focused Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST) search of each synteny block revealed 7,924 orthologous CNSs and 309 paralogous CNSs conserved among eight high-quality vertebrate genomes. Paralogous CNSs we found contained 115 previously reported ones and newly detected 194 ones. Through comparisons with VISTA Enhancer Browser and available ChIP-seq data, one-third (103) of paralogous CNSs detected in this study showed gene regulatory activity in the brain at several developmental stages. Their genomic locations are highly enriched near the transcription factor-coding regions, which are expressed in brain and neural systems. These results suggest that paralogous CNSs are conserved mainly because of maintaining gene expression in the vertebrate brain.