Female fly genomes also populated with de novo genes derived from ancestral sequences

Mar 26, 2014

A presentation at Genetics Society of America's Drosophila Research Conference builds the case that de novo genes derived from ancestral non-coding DNA can spread through a species.

Earlier this year, researchers in David J. Begun, Ph.D.'s lab at UC Davis reported that they had uncovered 142 de novo genes that originated in the ancestral non-coding DNA sequences and are segregating in Drosophila melanogaster populations.

Dr. Begun and postdoctoral scientist Li Zhao, Ph.D., identified de novo genes by comparing the RNA transcripts of the testes of several wild-derived strains of D. melanogaster to the standard reference genome for this fly and to the RNA transcripts and genomes of two other Drosophila species.

Their results suggested that these genes may play an important role in Drosophila male reproduction. The UC Davis scientists, who were the first to investigate whether de novo genes spread through a species, next turned their attention to females.

They conducted a systematic search for de novo genes that were expressed in female Drosophila flies and determined that these genes appear to derive primarily from ancestral intergenic sequences, which is similar to the case for male-biased de novo genes.

At the GSA Drosophila Research Conference, Dr. Zhao will report about the female-expressed de novo genes. The population genetics and role of selection on these will also be discussed.

Explore further: How an RNA gene silences a whole chromosome

More information: Abstract: "Female-expressed de novo genes in Drosophila." Li Zhao, David J. Begun. abstracts.genetics-gsa.org/cgi-bin/dros14s/showdetail.pl?absno=14531505

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