Sep 18, 2014

Origins and impacts of new exons

bioRxiv
Jason Merkin*Christopher 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.

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Mentioned in this Paper

RNA Polymerase II
Nucleosomes
Exons
Genes
DNA-Directed RNA Polymerase
Gene Deletion
Nucleic Acid Sequencing
5' Untranslated Regions
Nucleosome Location
Gene Expression

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