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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2015 Jun 1;7(6). pii: a017996. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a017996.

Evolution of new functions de novo and from preexisting genes.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Uppsala University, SE-75123 Uppsala, Sweden.


How the enormous structural and functional diversity of new genes and proteins was generated (estimated to be 10(10)-10(12) different proteins in all organisms on earth [Choi I-G, Kim S-H. 2006. Evolution of protein structural classes and protein sequence families. Proc Natl Acad Sci 103: 14056-14061] is a central biological question that has a long and rich history. Extensive work during the last 80 years have shown that new genes that play important roles in lineage-specific phenotypes and adaptation can originate through a multitude of different mechanisms, including duplication, lateral gene transfer, gene fusion/fission, and de novo origination. In this review, we focus on two main processes as generators of new functions: evolution of new genes by duplication and divergence of pre-existing genes and de novo gene origination in which a whole protein-coding gene evolves from a noncoding sequence.

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