Nature Reviews Genetics 7, 693-702 (September 2006) | doi:10.1038/nrg1940

Evolution of primate gene expression

Philipp Khaitovich1, Wolfgang Enard1, Michael Lachmann1 & Svante Pääbo1  About the authors


It has been suggested that evolutionary changes in gene expression account for most phenotypic differences between species, in particular between humans and apes. What general rules can be described governing expression evolution? We find that a neutral model where negative selection and divergence time are the major factors is a useful null hypothesis for both transcriptome and genome evolution. Two tissues that stand out with regard to gene expression are the testes, where positive selection has exerted a substantial influence in both humans and chimpanzees, and the brain, where gene expression has changed less than in other organs but acceleration might have occurred in human ancestors.

Author affiliations

  1. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.

Correspondence to: Svante Pääbo1 Email:


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