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F1000Res. 2017 Jan 19;6:57. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.10079.1. eCollection 2017.

Fact or fiction: updates on how protein-coding genes might emerge de novo from previously non-coding DNA.

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1
Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany.

Abstract

Over the last few years, there has been an increasing amount of evidence for the de novo emergence of protein-coding genes, i.e. out of non-coding DNA. Here, we review the current literature and summarize the state of the field. We focus specifically on open questions and challenges in the study of de novo protein-coding genes such as the identification and verification of de novo-emerged genes. The greatest obstacle to date is the lack of high-quality genomic data with very short divergence times which could help precisely pin down the location of origin of a de novo gene. We conclude that, while there is plenty of evidence from a genetics perspective, there is a lack of functional studies of bona fide de novo genes and almost no knowledge about protein structures and how they come about during the emergence of de novo protein-coding genes. We suggest that future studies should concentrate on the functional and structural characterization of de novo protein-coding genes as well as the detailed study of the emergence of functional de novo protein-coding genes.

KEYWORDS:

De novo protein evolution; de novo genes; gene emergence; novel genes; protein-coding genes

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no competing interests. No competing interests were disclosed. No competing interests were disclosed. No competing interests were disclosed.

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