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PLOS Genetics  2006 

Origination of an X-Linked Testes Chimeric Gene by Illegitimate Recombination in Drosophila

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.0020077

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The formation of chimeric gene structures provides important routes by which novel proteins and functions are introduced into genomes. Signatures of these events have been identified in organisms from wide phylogenic distributions. However, the ability to characterize the early phases of these evolutionary processes has been difficult due to the ancient age of the genes or to the limitations of strictly computational approaches. While examples involving retrotransposition exist, our understanding of chimeric genes originating via illegitimate recombination is limited to speculations based on ancient genes or transfection experiments. Here we report a case of a young chimeric gene that has originated by illegitimate recombination in Drosophila. This gene was created within the last 2–3 million years, prior to the speciation of Drosophila simulans, Drosophila sechellia, and Drosophila mauritiana. The duplication, which involved the B?llchen gene on Chromosome 3R, was partial, removing substantial 3′ coding sequence. Subsequent to the duplication onto the X chromosome, intergenic sequence was recruited into the protein-coding region creating a chimeric peptide with ~ 33 new amino acid residues. In addition, a novel intron-containing 5′ UTR and novel 3′ UTR evolved. We further found that this new X-linked gene has evolved testes-specific expression. Following speciation of the D. simulans complex, this novel gene evolved lineage-specifically with evidence for positive selection acting along the D. simulans branch.


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