Send to

Choose Destination
Gene. 2006 Feb 1;366(2):201-8. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

Models of spliceosomal intron proliferation in the face of widespread ectopic expression.

Author information

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697-2525, USA.


It is now certain that today living organisms can acquire new spliceosomal introns in their genes. The proposed sources of spliceosomal introns are exons, transposons, and other introns, including spliceosomal and group II self-splicing introns. Spliceosomal introns are thought to be the most likely source, because the inserted sequence would immediately be endowed with the essential set of intron recognition sequences, thereby preventing the deleterious effects associated with incorrect splicing. The most obvious spliceosomal intron duplication pathways involve an RNA transcript intermediate step. Therefore, for a spliceosomal intron to be originated by duplication, either the source gene from which the novel intron is derived, or that gene and the recipient gene, which contains the novel intron, would need to be expressed in the germ line. Intron proliferation surveys indicate that putative intron duplicate-containing genes do not always match detectable expression in the germ line, which casts doubt on the generality of the duplication model. However, judging mechanisms of intron gain (or loss) from present-day gene expression profiles could be erroneous, if expression patterns were different at the time the introns arose. In fact, this may likely be so in most cases. Ectopic expression, i.e., the expression of genes at times and locations where the target gene is not known to have a function, is a much more common phenomenon than previously realized. We conclude with a speculation on a possible interplay between spliceosomal introns and ectopic expression at the origin of multicellularity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for eScholarship, California Digital Library, University of California
Loading ...
Support Center