No. 74

February 2011

Headline News Innovation and Development

Applied Technology

Basic Science Cooperation between CAS and Local Authorities
Bioscience International Cooperation Brief News Geoscience

Basic Science

Progress in Functional Origins and Evolutions of New Genes

Doctoral student Ding Yun and his colleagues from the Sino-Max Planck Junior Research Group, State Key Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, CAS, under the guidance of Prof. Wang Wen, made research on the biological roles and molecular mechanism of the recently originated kep1 gene family in the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup. Through sequence and expression analysis, they found that one of the new genes is strongly affected by Darwinian positive selection in the revolutionary process and exhibits novel subcellular localization feature. Gene knockout and whole-transcriptome sequencing analysis further provides evidence that nsr is involved in the individualization and coiling processes of sperm via regulating several major Y chromosome interlocked fertility genes post-transcriptionally and makes an important contribution to the structural integrity of sperm axoneme. In addition, the absence of nsr-like testis expression pattern and the presence of corresponding cis-regulatory elements of ancestral genes in outgroup species indicate that before duplication ancestral genes might not have obvious functions for male reproductivity, and that the changes of trans-regulatory elements might facilitate the neofuctionalization process for nsr by giving it a new expression pattern. This research not only presents a comprehensive picture about the evolution of a young duplicate gene, but also shows that recently originated new genes can establish novel functional pathways and acquire multiple biological roles by regulating existing essential genes. In the meantime, the result that new genes are involved in the important and old biological process helps us to explain the common natural phenomenon that the same biological process of different organisms might be regulated by different genes. This paper has been published in the journal PLoS Genetics (IF=9.532) in December 2010.

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