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Cell Res. 2010 Apr;20(4):408-20. doi: 10.1038/cr.2010.31. Epub 2010 Mar 2.

A de novo originated gene depresses budding yeast mating pathway and is repressed by the protein encoded by its antisense strand.

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CAS-Max Planck Junior Research Group, State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan 650223, China.


Recent transcription profiling studies have revealed an unexpectedly large proportion of antisense transcripts in eukaryotic genomes. These antisense genes seem to regulate gene expression by interacting with sense genes. Previous studies have focused on the non-coding antisense genes, but the possible regulatory role of the antisense protein is poorly understood. In this study, we found that a protein encoded by the antisense gene ADF1 acts as a transcription suppressor, regulating the expression of sense gene MDF1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Based on the evolutionary, genetic, cytological and biochemical evidence, we show that the protein-coding sense gene MDF1 most likely originated de novo from a previously non-coding sequence and can significantly suppress the mating efficiency of baker's yeast in rich medium by binding MATalpha2 and thus promote vegetative growth. These results shed new light on several important issues, including a new sense-antisense interaction mechanism, the de novo origination of a functional gene, and the regulation of yeast mating pathway.

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