Ling and Alex’s paper about the factors that determine the evolutionary conservation of enhancer activity across species has been published in Genome Biology and Evolution! We studied maps of liver enhancers across 20 mammalian species and found that enhancers with conserved activity have higher regulatory potential, are active in more contexts, and regulate more genes than enhancers that are not conserved. This argues that pleiotropy is associated with the conservation of regulatory regions across mammalian evolution.
Patrick Abbott and I just published a Insight article in eLife about a recent manuscript that demonstrated similarities between genes expression dynamics in the short-lived marsupial placenta and marsupial mammary glands with genes expressed in eutherian placentas. This illustrates that many developmental functions in marsupials and eutherian mammals are accomplished by different tissues, but similar genes. We argue that similar comparative genomics approaches will yield more insights into the evolution and molecular basis of pregnancy.
Congratulations to former intern Vir Patel on the publishing of his paper about how the evolutionary histories of miRNAs are informative about their functions and potential to cause disease. Vir started this project several years ago as a summer intern and worked hard to finish it over the past year. Great job Vir!