Gene Expression as a Function of Diet
In my lab I work with a transcription factor called the Carbohydrate Response Element Binding Protein (ChREBP) that activates in a pathway that uses glucose as a signaling molecule to activate transcription of a certain set of genes. The signaling occurs after meals rich in carbohydrates, which are converted to simpler sugars such as glucose. This signaling can have a great effect on which proteins are being expressed at any point.
PLoS ONE has an article by Somel, Creely, et al that takes a look at how the diet difference between humans and other primates can effect differences in phenotype and genotype.
The effects of human diets were found to be significantly different from that of a chimpanzee diet in the mouse liver, but not in the brain. Importantly, 10% of the genes that differ in their expression between humans and chimpanzee livers differed also between the livers of mice fed the human and chimpanzee diets. Furthermore, both the promoter sequences and the amino acid sequences of these diet-related genes carry more differences between humans and chimpanzees than random genes. Our results suggest that the mouse can be used to study at least some aspects of human-specific traits.