Large clusters of co-expressed genes in the Drosophila genome

Nature. 2002 Dec 12;420(6916):666-9. doi: 10.1038/nature01216.


Clustering of co-expressed, non-homologous genes on chromosomes implies their co-regulation. In lower eukaryotes, co-expressed genes are often found in pairs. Clustering of genes that share aspects of transcriptional regulation has also been reported in higher eukaryotes. 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / embryology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Expressed Sequence Tags
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Genes, Insect / genetics*
  • Genome*
  • Head
  • Male
  • Multigene Family / genetics*
  • Organ Specificity
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Testis / metabolism
  • X Chromosome / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • RNA, Messenger