Origins and impacts of new exons

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Jason Merkin*Christopher B Burge

Abstract

Mammalian genes are typically broken into several protein-coding and non-coding exons, but the evolutionary origins and functions of new exons are not well understood. Here, we analyzed patterns of exon gain using deep cDNA sequencing data from several mammals and one bird, identifying thousands of species- and lineage-specific exons. While exons conserved across mammals are mostly protein-coding and constitutively spliced, species-specific exons were mostly located in 5′ untranslated regions and alternatively spliced. New exons most often derived from unique intronic sequence rather than repetitive elements, and were associated with upstream intronic deletions, increased nucleosome occupancy and RNA polymerase II pausing. Surprisingly, exon gain was associated with increased gene expression, but only in tissues where the exon was included, suggesting that splicing enhances steady-state mRNA levels and that changes in splicing represent a major contributor to the evolution of gene expression.

Related Concepts

Aves
Biological Evolution
Exons
Gene Deletion
Gene Expression
Genes
DNA-Directed RNA Polymerase
RNA Splicing
RNA, Messenger
3' Untranslated Regions

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