Open Close
Duque, T., Sinha, S. (2015). What does it take to evolve an enhancer? A simulation-based study of factors influencing the emergence of combinatorial regulation.  Genome Biol. Evol. 7(6): 1415--1431.
FlyBase ID
Publication Type
Research paper

There is widespread interest today in understanding enhancers, which are regulatory elements typically harboring several transcription factor binding sites and mediating the combinatorial effect of transcription factors on gene expression. The evolution of enhancers poses interesting unanswered questions, for example, the evolutionary time taken for a typical enhancer to emerge or the factors shaping its evolution. Existing approaches to cis-regulatory evolution have often ignored the combinatorial nature and varied biochemical mechanisms of gene regulation encoded in enhancers. We report on our investigation of enhancer evolution through the use of PEBCRES, a framework for evolutionary simulation of enhancers that employs a mechanistic and well-supported sequence-to-expression model to assign fitness to the evolving enhancer genotype. We estimated the time necessary to evolve, from genomic background, enhancers capable of driving complex gene expression patterns similar to those involved in early development in Drosophila. We found the time-to-evolve to range between 0.5 and 10 Myr, and to vary greatly with the target expression pattern, complexity of the real enhancer known to encode that pattern, and the strength of input from specific transcription factors. To our knowledge, this is the first estimate of waiting times for realistic enhancers to evolve. The in silico evolved enhancers had, with a few interesting exceptions, site compositions similar to those seen in real enhancers for the same patterns. Our simulations also revealed that certain features of an enhancer might evolve not due to their biological function but as aids to the evolutionary process itself.

PubMed ID
PubMed Central ID
PMC4494070 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
Associated Information
Associated Files
Other Information
Secondary IDs
    Language of Publication
    Additional Languages of Abstract
    Parent Publication
    Publication Type
    Genome Biol. Evol.
    Genome biology and evolution
    Data From Reference
    Genes (15)