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  1. Abstract

    Gene duplication is increasingly recognized as an important mechanism for the origination of new genes, as revealed by comparative genomic analysis. However, how new duplicate genes contribute to phenotypic evolution remains largely unknown, especially in plants. Here, we identified the new gene EXOV, derived from a partial gene duplication of its parental gene EXOVL in Arabidopsis thaliana. EXOV is a species-specific gene that originated within the last 3.5 million years and shows strong signals of positive selection. Unexpectedly, RNA-sequencing analyses revealed that, despite its young age, EXOV has acquired many novel direct and indirect interactions in which the parental gene does not engage. This observation is consistent with the high, selection-driven substitution rate of its encoded protein, in contrast to the slowly evolving EXOVL, suggesting an important role for EXOV in phenotypic evolution. We observed significant differentiation of morphological changes for all phenotypes assessed in genome-edited and T-DNA insertional single mutants and in double T-DNA insertion mutants in EXOV and EXOVL. We discovered a substantial divergence of phenotypic effects by principal component analyses, suggesting neofunctionalization of the new gene. These results reveal a young gene that plays critical roles in biological processes that underlie morphological evolution in A. thaliana.

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  2. Abstract Background Events of gene fusion have been reported in several organisms. However, the general role of gene fusion as part of new gene origination remains unknown. Results We conduct genome-wide interrogations of four Oryza genomes by designing and implementing novel pipelines to detect fusion genes. Based on the phylogeny of ten plant species, we detect 310 fusion genes across four Oryza species. The estimated rate of origination of fusion genes in the Oryza genus is as high as 63 fusion genes per species per million years, which is fixed at 16 fusion genes per species per million years and much higher than that in flies. By RNA sequencing analysis, we find more than 44% of the fusion genes are expressed and 90% of gene pairs show strong signals of purifying selection. Further analysis of CRISPR/Cas9 knockout lines indicates that newly formed fusion genes regulate phenotype traits including seed germination, shoot length and root length, suggesting the functional significance of these genes. Conclusions We detect new fusion genes that may drive phenotype evolution in Oryza. This study provides novel insights into the genome evolution of Oryza. 
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  3. Genes that originate during evolution are an important source of novel biological functions. Retrogenes are functional copies of genes produced by retroduplication and as such are located in different genomic positions. To investigate retroposition patterns and retrogene expression, we computationally identified interchromosomal retroduplication events in nine portions of the phylogenetic history of malaria mosquitoes, making use of species that do or do not have classical sex chromosomes to test the roles of sex-linkage. We found 40 interchromosomal events and a significant excess of retroduplications from the X chromosome to autosomes among a set of young retrogenes. These young retroposition events occurred within the last 100 million years in lineages where all species possessed differentiated sex chromosomes. An analysis of available microarray and RNA-seq expression data for Anopheles gambiae showed that many of the young retrogenes evolved male-biased expression in the reproductive organs. Young autosomal retrogenes with increased meiotic or postmeiotic expression in the testes tend to be male biased. In contrast, older retrogenes, i.e., in lineages with undifferentiated sex chromosomes, do not show this particular chromosomal bias and are enriched for female-biased expression in reproductive organs. Our reverse-transcription PCR data indicates that most of the youngest retrogenes, which originated within the last 47.6 million years in the subgenus Cellia, evolved non-uniform expression patterns across body parts in the males and females of An. coluzzii. Finally, gene annotation revealed that mitochondrial function is a prominent feature of the young autosomal retrogenes. We conclude that mRNA-mediated gene duplication has produced a set of genes that contribute to mosquito reproductive functions and that different biases are revealed after the sex chromosomes evolve. Overall, these results suggest potential roles for the evolution of meiotic sex chromosome inactivation in males and of sexually antagonistic conflict related to mitochondrial energy function as the main selective pressures for X-to-autosome gene reduplication and testis-biased expression in these mosquito lineages. 
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  4. Young, or newly evolved, genes arise ubiquitously across the tree of life, and they can rapidly acquire novel functions that influence a diverse array of biological processes. Previous work identified a young regulatory duplicate gene in Drosophila, Zeus that unexpectedly diverged rapidly from its parent, Caf40, an extremely conserved component in the CCR4–NOT machinery in post-transcriptional and post-translational regulation of eukaryotic cells, and took on roles in the male reproductive system. This neofunctionalization was accompanied by differential binding of the Zeus protein to loci throughout the Drosophila melanogaster genome. However, the way in which new DNA-binding proteins acquire and coevolve with their targets in the genome is not understood. Here, by comparing Zeus ChIP-Seq data from D. melanogaster and D. simulans to the ancestral Caf40 binding events from D. yakuba, a species that diverged before the duplication event, we found a dynamic pattern in which Zeus binding rapidly coevolved with a previously unknown DNA motif, which we term Caf40 and Zeus-Associated Motif (CAZAM), under the influence of positive selection. Interestingly, while both copies of Zeus acquired targets at male-biased and testis-specific genes, D. melanogaster and D. simulans proteins have specialized binding on different chromosomes, a pattern echoed in the evolution of the associated motif. Using CRISPR-Cas9-mediated gene knockout of Zeus and RNA-Seq, we found that Zeus regulated the expression of 661 differentially expressed genes (DEGs). Our results suggest that the evolution of young regulatory genes can be coupled to substantial rewiring of the transcriptional networks into which they integrate, even over short evolutionary timescales. Our results thus uncover dynamic genome-wide evolutionary processes associated with new genes. 
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  5. Purugganan, Michael (Ed.)
    Abstract As drivers of evolutionary innovations, new genes allow organisms to explore new niches. However, clear examples of this process remain scarce. Bamboos, the unique grass lineage diversifying into the forest, have evolved with a key innovation of fast growth of woody stem, reaching up to 1 m/day. Here, we identify 1,622 bamboo-specific orphan genes that appeared in recent 46 million years, and 19 of them evolved from noncoding ancestral sequences with entire de novo origination process reconstructed. The new genes evolved gradually in exon−intron structure, protein length, expression specificity, and evolutionary constraint. These new genes, whether or not from de novo origination, are dominantly expressed in the rapidly developing shoots, and make transcriptomes of shoots the youngest among various bamboo tissues, rather than reproductive tissue in other plants. Additionally, the particularity of bamboo shoots has also been shaped by recent whole-genome duplicates (WGDs), which evolved divergent expression patterns from ancestral states. New genes and WGDs have been evolutionarily recruited into coexpression networks to underline fast-growing trait of bamboo shoot. Our study highlights the importance of interactions between new genes and genome duplicates in generating morphological innovation. 
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  6. null (Ed.)