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Mol Biol Evol. 2011 Mar;28(3):1193-203. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msq298. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

Lowly expressed genes in Arabidopsis thaliana bear the signature of possible pseudogenization by promoter degradation.

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1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

Abstract

Pseudogenes are defined as nonfunctional DNA sequences with homology to functional protein-coding genes, and they typically contain nonfunctional mutations within the presumptive coding region. In theory, pseudogenes can also be caused by mutations in upstream regulatory regions, appearing as open reading frames with attenuated expression. In this study, we identified 1,939 annotated protein-coding genes with little evidence of expression in Arabidopsis thaliana and characterized their molecular evolutionary characteristics. On average, this set of genes was shorter than expressed genes and evolved with a 2-fold higher rate of nonsynonymous substitutions. The divergence of upstream sequences, based on ortholog comparisons to A. lyrata, was also higher than expressed genes, suggesting that these lowly expressed genes could be examples of pseudogenization by promoter disablement, often due to transposable element insertion. We complemented our empirical study by extending the models of Force et al. (Force A, Lynch M, Pickett FB, Amores A, Yan YL, Postlethwait J. 1999. Preservation of duplicate genes by complementary, degenerative mutations. Genetics 151:1531-1545.) to derive the probability of promoter disablements after gene duplication.

PMID:
21059790
DOI:
10.1093/molbev/msq298
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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