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The genomic instructions used to regulate development are encoded within a set of functional DNA elements called cis-regulatory modules (CRMs). These elements determine the precise patterns of temporal and spatial gene expression. Here we summarize recent progress made towards cataloguing and characterizing the complete repertoire of CRMs. We describe CRMs as genomic information processing devices containing clusters of transcription factor binding sites and we position CRMs as nodes within large gene regulatory networks. We define CRM architecture and describe how these genomic elements process the information they encode to their target genes. Furthermore, we present an overview describing high-throughput techniques to identify CRMs genome wide and experimental methodologies to validate their function on a large scale. This review emphasizes the advantages and power of a systems biology approach which integrates computational and experimental technologies to further our understanding of CRM function.

Original publication




Journal article


Semin Cell Dev Biol

Publication Date





856 - 862


Animals, Biotechnology, Gene Regulatory Networks, Genetic Variation, Humans, Models, Genetic, Systems Biology