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Schrider, D.R., Stevens, K., Cardeño, C.M., Langley, C.H., Hahn, M.W. (2011). Genome-wide analysis of retrogene polymorphisms in Drosophila melanogaster.  Genome Res. 21(12): 2087--2095.
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Research paper

Gene duplication via retrotransposition has been shown to be an important mechanism in evolution, affecting gene dosage and allowing for the acquisition of new gene functions. Although fixed retrotransposed genes have been found in a variety of species, very little effort has been made to identify retrogene polymorphisms. Here, we examine 37 Illumina-sequenced North American Drosophila melanogaster inbred lines and present the first ever data set and analysis of polymorphic retrogenes in Drosophila. We show that this type of polymorphism is quite common, with any two gametes in the North American population differing in the presence or absence of six retrogenes, accounting for ~13% of gene copy-number heterozygosity. These retrogenes were identified by a straightforward method that can be applied using any type of DNA sequencing data. We also use a variant of this method to conduct a genome-wide scan for intron presence/absence polymorphisms, and show that any two chromosomes in the population likely differ in the presence of multiple introns. We show that these polymorphisms are all in fact deletions rather than intron gain events present in the reference genome. Finally, by leveraging the known location of the parental genes that give rise to the retrogene polymorphisms, we provide direct evidence that natural selection is responsible for the excess of fixations of retrogenes moving off of the X chromosome in Drosophila. Further efforts to identify retrogene and intron presence/absence polymorphisms will undoubtedly improve our understanding of the evolution of gene copy number and gene structure.

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PMC3227099 (PMC) (EuropePMC)
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    Genome Res.
    Genome Research
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