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Trends Genet. 2006 Sep;22(9):468-71. Epub 2006 Jul 20.

Intron-rich ancestors.

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  • Allan Wilson Centre, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. scottwroy@gmail.com


Eukaryotic genes are interrupted by spliceosomal introns, which are removed from gene transcripts. The number of introns per gene varies by more than two orders of magnitude between species, implying that there has been extensive intron loss and/or gain throughout eukaryotic evolution. A recent study of intron positions in animals confirms that the ancestral bilaterian was rich in introns, and that differences in intron number between animals largely reflect different levels of intron loss. These results refocus our attention on the evolutionary history and importance of introns in early eukaryotic evolution.

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