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Brief Bioinform. 2011 Sep;12(5):442-8. doi: 10.1093/bib/bbr022. Epub 2011 Apr 22.

Evidence for short-time divergence and long-time conservation of tissue-specific expression after gene duplication.

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  • 1Centre for Genomic Regulation, Barcelona, Spain.


Gene duplication is one of the main mechanisms by which genomes can acquire novel functions. It has been proposed that the retention of gene duplicates can be associated to processes of tissue expression divergence. These models predict that acquisition of divergent expression patterns should be acquired shortly after the duplication, and that larger divergence in tissue expression would be expected for paralogs, as compared to orthologs of a similar age. Many studies have shown that gene duplicates tend to have divergent expression patterns and that gene family expansions are associated with high levels of tissue specificity. However, the timeframe in which these processes occur have rarely been investigated in detail, particularly in vertebrates, and most analyses do not include direct comparisons of orthologs as a baseline for the expected levels of tissue specificity in absence of duplications. To assess the specific contribution of duplications to expression divergence, we combine here phylogenetic analyses and expression data from human and mouse. In particular, we study differences in spatial expression among human-mouse paralogs, specifically duplicated after the radiation of mammals, and compare them to pairs of orthologs in the same species. Our results show that gene duplication leads to increased levels of tissue specificity and that this tends to occur promptly after the duplication event.

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