Intron evolution as a population-genetic process

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

174 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Debate over the mechanisms responsible for the phylogenetic and genomic distribution of introns has proceeded largely without consideration of the population-genetic forces influencing the establishment and retention of novel genetic elements. However, a simple model incorporating random genetic drift and weak mutation pressure against intron-containing alleles yields predictions consistent with a diversity of observations: (i) the rarity of introns in unicellular organisms with large population sizes, and their expansion after the origin of multicellular organisms with reduced population sizes; (ii) the relationship between intron abundance and the stringency of splice-site requirements; (iii) the tendency for introns to be more numerous and longer in regions of low recombination; and (iv) the bias toward phase-0 introns. This study provides a second example of a mechanism whereby genomic complexity originates passively as a "pathological" response to small population size, and raises difficulties for the idea that ancient introns played a major role in the origin of genes by exon shuffling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6118-6123
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume99
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 30 2002
Externally publishedYes

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Genetic Phenomena
Population Genetics
Introns
Population Density
Genetic Drift
Genetic Recombination
Exons
Alleles
Pressure
Mutation

Keywords

  • Exon shuffling
  • Genome complexity
  • Genome evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Intron evolution as a population-genetic process. / Lynch, Michael.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 99, No. 9, 30.04.2002, p. 6118-6123.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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