Genes Born By Accident Led To Evolutionary Innovation, Study Reveals

First Posted: Jan 06, 2016 03:04 PM EST

Researchers found that a set of new genes born by accident have led to an evolutionary innovation, according to study by researchers at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona.

Novel genes have constantly developed during the course of evolution. The researchers' new study found that the accidental appearances of certain combinations of elements in the genome can lead to the generation of new genes. Each genome contains various sets of genes, which are quite distinctive to that specific species. The researchers first identified thousands of genes that were specific to humans or chimpanzees.

They then looked for the macaque genome, where they found that this species had much less element motifs in the corresponding genomic sequences. These motifs are recognized by proteins that activate gene expression, which is a required step in the creation of a new gene. The formation of genes de novo from previously non-active parts of the genome was considered highly improbable, up until recently.

The researchers' study showed that the mutations that occur normally within genetic material is sufficient to explain how this process occurs. When expressed, the genes can act like as a substrate for the evolution of new molecular functions, according to the researchers. The study recognized several candidate human proteins that has no similarities to any other proteins.

The findings of this study were published in PLOS Genetics.

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