Lengthening of 3′UTR increases with morphological complexity in animal evolution

Cho Yi Chen, Shui Tein Chen, Hsueh Fen Juan*, Hsuan Cheng Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Motivation: Evolutionary expansion of gene regulatory circuits seems to boost morphological complexity. However, the expansion patterns and the quantification relationships have not yet been identified. In this study, we focus on the regulatory circuits at the post-transcriptional level, investigating whether and how this principle may apply. Results: By analysing the structure of mRNA transcripts in multiple metazoan species, we observed a striking exponential correlation between the length of 30 untranslated regions (30UTR) and morphological complexity as measured by the number of cell types in each organism. Cellular diversity was similarly associated with the accumulation of microRNA genes and their putative targets. We propose that the lengthening of 30UTRs together with a commensurate exponential expansion in post-transcriptional regulatory circuits can contribute to the emergence of new cell types during animal evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3178-3181
Number of pages4
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2012


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