Genetic background of phenotypic variation

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2 Citations (Scopus)


A noteworthy feature of the living world is its bewildering variability. A key issue in several biological disciplines is the achievement of an understanding of the hereditary basis of this variability. Two opposing, but not necessarily irreconcilable conceptions attempt to explain the underlying mechanism. The gene function paradigm postulates that phenotypic variance is generated by the polymorphism in the coding sequences of genes. However, comparisons of a great number of homologous gene and protein sequences have revealed that they predominantly remained functionally conserved even across distantly related phylogenic taxa. Alternatively, the gene regulation paradigm assumes that differences in the cis-regulatory region of genes do account for phenotype variation within species. An extension of this latter concept is that phenotypic variability is generated by the polymorphism in the overall gene expression profiles of gene networks. In other words, the activity of a particular gene is a system property determined both by the cis-regulatory sequences of the given genes and by the other genes of a gene network, whose expressions vary among individuals, too. Novel proponents of gene function paradigm claim that functional genetic variance within the coding sequences of regulatory genes is critical for the generation of morphological polymorphism. Note, however, that these developmental genes play direct regulatory roles in the control of gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1119-1126
Number of pages8
JournalProgress in Natural Science
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - okt. 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)

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