Taxonomically restricted genes (TRGs) are genes that are present only in one clade. Protein-coding TRGs may evolve de novo from previously noncoding sequences: functional ncRNA, introns, or alternative reading frames of older protein-coding genes, or intergenic sequences. A major challenge in studying de novo genes is the need to avoid both false-positives (nonfunctional open reading frames and/or functional genes that did not arise de novo) and false-negatives. Here, we search conservatively for high-confidence TRGs as the most promising candidates for experimental studies, ensuring functionality through conservation across at least two species, and ensuring de novo status through examination of homologous noncoding sequences. Our pipeline also avoids ascertainment biases associated with preconceptions of how de novo genes are born. We identify one TRG family that evolved de novo in the Drosophila melanogaster subgroup. This TRG family contains single-copy genes in Drosophila simulans and Drosophila sechellia. It originated in an intron of a well-established gene, sharing that intron with another well-established gene upstream. These TRGs contain an intron that predates their open reading frame. These genes have not been previously reported as de novo originated, and to our knowledge, they are the best Drosophila candidates identified so far for experimental studies aimed at elucidating the properties of de novo genes.
- De novo gene birth
- De novo genes
- Genome evolution
- New genes
- Taxonomically restricted genes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics