Characterization of interspecies differences in gene regulation is crucial for understanding the molecular basis of both phenotypic diversity and evolution. By means of chromatin immunoprecipitation and DNA microarray analysis, the divergence in the binding sites of the pseudohyphal regulators Ste12 and Tec1 was determined in the yeasts Saccharomyces cerevisiae, S. mikatae, and S. bayanus under pseudohyphal conditions. We have shown that most of these sites have diverged across these species, far exceeding the interspecies variation in orthologous genes. A group of Stel2 targets was shown to be bound only in S. mikatae and S. bayanus under pseudohyphal conditions. Many of these genes are targets of Ste12 during mating in S. cerevisiae, indicating that specialization between the two pathways has occurred in this species. Transcription factor binding sites have therefore diverged substantially faster than ortholog content. Thus, gene regulation resulting from transcription factor binding is likely to be a major cause of divergence between related species.
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