In his influential book “Evolution by Gene Duplication
”, Ohno postulated that frameshift mutation could lead to a new function after duplication, but frameshift mutation is generally thought to be deleterious, and thus drew little attention in functional innovation in duplicate evolution. To this end, we here report an exhaustive survey of the genomes of human, mouse, zebrafish, and fruit fly. We identified 80 duplicate genes that involved frameshift mutations after duplication. The frameshift mutation preferentially located close to the C-terminus in most cases (55/88), which indicated that a frameshift mutation that changed the reading frame in a small part at the end of a duplicate may likely have contributed to adaptive evolution (e.g., human genes NOTCH2NL
) otherwise too deleterious to survive. A few cases (11/80) involved multiple frameshift mutations, exhibiting various patterns of modifications of the reading frame. Functionality of duplicate genes involving frameshift mutations was confirmed by sequence characteristics and expression profile, suggesting a potential role of frameshift mutation in creating functional novelty. We thus showed that genomes have non-negligible numbers of genes that have experienced frameshift mutations following gene duplication. Our results demonstrated the potential importance of frameshift mutations in molecular evolution, as Ohno verbally argued 50 years ago.
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