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Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2010

Authors: Farlow, A; Meduri, E; Dolezal, M; Hua, L; Schlötterer, C

Title: Nonsense-mediated decay enables intron gain in Drosophila.

Source: PLoS Genet. 2010; 6(1):e1000819

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Dolezal Marlies
Farlow Ashley
Meduri Eshwar
Schlötterer Christian

Vetmed Research Units
Institute of Population Genetics

Project(s): An intron based screen for functional innovation

Intron number varies considerably among genomes, but despite their fundamental importance, the mutational mechanisms and evolutionary processes underlying the expansion of intron number remain unknown. Here we show that Drosophila, in contrast to most eukaryotic lineages, is still undergoing a dramatic rate of intron gain. These novel introns carry significantly weaker splice sites that may impede their identification by the spliceosome. Novel introns are more likely to encode a premature termination codon (PTC), indicating that nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) functions as a backup for weak splicing of new introns. Our data suggest that new introns originate when genomic insertions with weak splice sites are hidden from selection by NMD. This mechanism reduces the sequence requirement imposed on novel introns and implies that the capacity of the spliceosome to recognize weak splice sites was a prerequisite for intron gain during eukaryotic evolution.

Keywords Pubmed: Amino Acid Sequence
Codon, Nonsense*
Drosophila Proteins/chemistry
Drosophila Proteins/genetics
Drosophila Proteins/metabolism
Molecular Sequence Data
RNA Splicing
Sequence Alignment

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