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Mol Biol Evol. 2007 Feb;24(2):539-50. Epub 2006 Nov 29.

Mechanisms and rates of birth and death of dispersed duplicated genes during the evolution of a multigene family in diploid and tetraploid wheats.

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  • 1Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, USA.


A family of 5 genes that evolved within the past 1.9 Myr in diploid wheat was characterized. The ancestral gene, ALP-A1, is on chromosome 1A and encodes an aci-reductone dioxygenase-like protein. The duplicated genes ALP-A2, ALP-A3, ALP-A4.1, and ALP-A4.2 acquired complete coding sequences but lost the original promoter. They are on chromosomes 4A, 2A, 6A and 6A, respectively, and evolved sequentially, the youngest duplicated gene always producing the next duplicate. It is shown that dispersed gene duplication rate consists of the primary rate (duplications of ancestral genes) and the secondary rate (duplications of genes that had been generated by recent duplications). The primary rate was 2.5 x 10(-3) gene(-1) Myr(-1) in diploid wheat. The secondary rate was 5.2 x 10(-2) gene(-1) Myr(-1) in the ALP family. The 20-fold acceleration of the secondary rate was caused by the insertion of the ALP-A2 gene into a novel type transposon. Only the ALP-A1 and ALP-A3 genes are transcribed. The transcription of ALP-A3 is directed by a promoter within a DNA fragment similar to a CACTA type of DNA transposons, making ALP-A3 a new gene. The ALP-A3 transcript is longer than that of the ALP-A1. The half-life of ALP duplicated genes was estimated to be 0.87 Myr. Strong purifying selection acting on the ancestral gene ALP-A1 was undiminished by the evolution of duplicated genes. The evolution of the ALP family shows that repeated elements facilitate both gene duplication and expression of duplicated genes and highlights their importance for the evolution of gene repertoire in large plant genomes.

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