Nature Reviews Genetics 12, 692-702 (October 2011) | doi:10.1038/nrg3053
The evolutionary origin of orphan genes
Gene evolution has long been thought to be primarily driven by duplication and rearrangement mechanisms. However, every evolutionary lineage harbours orphan genes that lack homologues in other lineages and whose evolutionary origin is only poorly understood. Orphan genes might arise from duplication and rearrangement processes followed by fast divergence; however, de novo evolution out of non-coding genomic regions is emerging as an important additional mechanism. This process appears to provide raw material continuously for the evolution of new gene functions, which can become relevant for lineage-specific adaptations.
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