Large clusters of co-expressed genes in the Drosophila genome


Clustering of co-expressed, non-homologous genes on chromosomes implies their co-regulation. In lower eukaryotes, co-expressed genes are often found in pairs1,2. Clustering of genes that share aspects of transcriptional regulation has also been reported in higher eukaryotes3,4. To advance our understanding of the mode of coordinated gene regulation in multicellular organisms, we performed a genome-wide analysis of the chromosomal distribution of co-expressed genes in Drosophila. We identified a total of 1,661 testes-specific genes, one-third of which are clustered on chromosomes. The number of clusters of three or more genes is much higher than expected by chance. We observed a similar trend for genes upregulated in the embryo and in the adult head, although the expression pattern of individual genes cannot be predicted on the basis of chromosomal position alone. Our data suggest that the prevalent mechanism of transcriptional co-regulation in higher eukaryotes operates with extensive chromatin domains that comprise multiple genes.

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Figure 1: EST profiling reveals clusters of testes-specific genes.
Figure 2: EST profiling and real-time RT–PCR produce similar tissue specificity profiles.
Figure 3: The D. melanogaster genome is enriched with large clusters of non-homologous testes-specific genes.


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This work was supported by a grant from the US Public Health Service. We thank D. Albertini, E. Gibney, M. Nurminskaya and V. Shkadov for their comments and careful reading of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Dmitry I. Nurminsky.

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Boutanaev, A., Kalmykova, A., Shevelyov, Y. et al. Large clusters of co-expressed genes in the Drosophila genome. Nature 420, 666–669 (2002).

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