Natural genetic variation can cause significant differences in gene expression, but little is known about the polymorphisms that affect gene regulation. We analyzed regulatory variation in a cross between laboratory and wild strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Clustering and linkage analysis defined groups of coregulated genes and the loci involved in their regulation. Most expression differences mapped to trans-acting loci. Positional cloning and functional assays showed that polymorphisms in GPA1 and AMN1 affect expression of genes involved in pheromone response and daughter cell separation, respectively. We also asked whether particular classes of genes were more likely to contain trans-regulatory polymorphisms. Notably, transcription factors showed no enrichment, and trans-regulatory variation seems to be broadly dispersed across classes of genes with different molecular functions.
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