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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 12, 1994; 91(8): 2950–2954.
PMCID: PMC43492

Invasion and maintenance of a gene duplication.

Abstract

The ubiquity of multigene families is evidence for the frequent occurrence of gene duplication, but the origin of multigene families from a single gene remains a little-studied aspect of genome evolution. Although it is clear that a duplication can arise and become fixed in a population purely by random genetic drift and that the rate of fixation is accelerated if the duplication is directly advantageous, the nature of gene duplication suggests that other factors may influence the fate of a novel duplication. In the face of disadvantageous loss-of-function mutations, duplication of a functional gene may provide a buffer against such mutations. Here the conditions for invasion of a rare duplication starting from a mutation-selection balance are derived with formal population genetic models in both haploids and diploids. Recurrent duplication protects the duplicated chromosome from loss and can be very effective in increasing its frequency in a population. In the absence of recurrent duplication, one might suppose that a duplication would be favored by natural selection because it can mask the effects of deleterious mutations. However, the models show that a duplication can invade only if it provides a direct advantage to the organism. This result is closely related to recent theoretical work on the evolution of ploidy.

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Selected References

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