Generating Varieties

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Science  19 Jan 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5810, pp. 302
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5810.302a

Paralogs are the result of a gene duplication event arising after speciation. By examining expressed sequence tags (ESTs) in the B73 strain of maize, Emrich et al. identified gene copies with 98% or more similarity, which they have labeled as nearly identical paralogs (NIPs). Approximately 1% of all genes in maize (Zea mays L.) have a NIP, a significantly higher rate than found in Arabidopsis. Many of these NIPs demonstrate linkage, suggesting that they originated via tandem gene duplication. Among NIP families it was found that both gene copies were often expressed (∼80%) and that the expression of an individual gene often differed from that of its paralog. These data suggest that paralogs may be a means by which organisms generate variation and, in the case of maize, may have been important in providing varieties for selection and domestication by humans. — LMZ

Genetics 10.1534/genetics.106.064006 (2006).

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