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Mol Biol Evol. 2006 Oct;23(10):1824-7. Epub 2006 Jul 17.

Very little intron gain in Entamoeba histolytica genes laterally transferred from prokaryotes.


The evolution of spliceosomal introns remains intensely debated. We studied 96 Entamoeba histolytica genes previously identified as having been laterally transferred from prokaryotes, which were presumably intronless at the time of transfer. Ninety out of the 96 are also present in the reptile parasite Entamoeba invadens, indicating lateral transfer before the species' divergence approximately 50 MYA. We find only 2 introns, both shared with E. invadens. Thus, no intron gains have occurred in approximately 50 Myr, implying a very low rate of intron gain of less than one gain per gene per approximately 4.5 billion years. Nine other predicted introns are due to annotation errors reflecting apparent mistakes in the E. histolytica genome assembly. These results underscore the massive differences in intron gain rates through evolution.

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