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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 23;100(26):15661-5. Epub 2003 Dec 5.

Organismal complexity, protein complexity, and gene duplicability.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, 1101 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Although the evolutionary significance of gene duplication has long been recognized, it remains unclear what determines gene duplicability. We find protein complexity to be an important determinant because the proportion of unduplicated genes (P) increases with the number of subunits in a protein. However, P is high (>or=65%) for both monomers and multimers in yeast, but <or=30% in human except for subunits of large multimers, implying that organismal complexity is a stronger determinant of gene duplicability than protein complexity. The same conclusion is reached from a comparison of family sizes in yeast and human.

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