Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New genes spring, spread from non-coding DNA

Date:
January 23, 2014
Source:
University of California - Davis
Summary:
"Where do new genes come from?" is a long-standing question in genetics and evolutionary biology. A new study shows that new genes can spring from non-coding DNA more rapidly than expected.

Stock illustration of DNA strands. "This is the first example of totally new genes still spreading through a species," said Li Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis and first author on the paper.
Credit: lucato / Fotolia

"Where do new genes come from?" is a long-standing question in genetics and evolutionary biology. A new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, published Jan. 23 in Science Express, shows that new genes are created from non-coding DNA more rapidly than expected.

Related Articles


"This shows very clearly that genes are being born from ancestral sequences all the time," said David Begun, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and senior author on the paper.

Geneticists have long puzzled about how completely new genes appear. In a well-known model proposed by Nobel laureate Susumu Ohno, new functions appear when existing genes are duplicated and then diverge in function. Begun's laboratory discovered a few years ago that new genes could also appear from previously non-coding stretches of DNA, and similar effects have since been discovered in other animals and plants.

"This is the first example of totally new genes still spreading through a species," said Li Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis and first author on the paper.

Zhao looked at RNA transcripts -- corresponding to expressed genes -- in the testes of several wild-derived strains of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, and compared them to transcripts expressed in the standard reference sequence strain and in two closely related species. She found 248 new genes that exist only in D. melanogaster, just over a hundred of which were "fixed," or already spread throughout the population.

These genes emerged from ancestrally non-coding DNA since D. melanogaster split from its close relative, D. simulans.

The new genes showed evidence of being under selection, meaning that they were spreading through the population as flies carrying them gained an edge in reproduction. They fell into two broad classes: genes found at high frequency tended to be larger and more complex, and therefore likely had more significant functions, than those found at low frequency.

The researchers studied testis because earlier work showed a relatively high rate of adaptive evolution for male reproductive function, Begun said. They plan to expand their studies to other tissues.

Zhao said that it's possible that these new genes form when a random mutation in the regulatory machinery causes a piece of non-coding DNA to be transcribed to RNA.

"If it has a beneficial effect, then it gets selected," she said. It's difficult to say at this point how important this phenomenon is for generating new genetic material, Zhao said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Li Zhao, Perot Saelao, Corbin D. Jones, and David J. Begun. Origin and Spread of de Novo Genes in Drosophila melanogaster Populations. Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1126/science.1248286

Cite This Page:

University of California - Davis. "New genes spring, spread from non-coding DNA." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123142029.htm>.
University of California - Davis. (2014, January 23). New genes spring, spread from non-coding DNA. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123142029.htm
University of California - Davis. "New genes spring, spread from non-coding DNA." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123142029.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins