How proteins can evolve new functions

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Science  08 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6197, pp. 634
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6197.634-b

As species evolve, they often retain proteins from their ancestor species. Those proteins often retain critical functions throughout evolutionary history, but they can acquire new roles, too. Cheatle Jarvela et al. investigate one example: the transcription factor Tbrain, which drives mouse, sea urchin, and sea star development. A region of Tbrain that binds to DNA appeared in all three species and bound to the same DNA sequence in all three species, too. However, both mouse and sea star Tbrain also bound to a second DNA sequence, which differed between the two species. In sea stars, that second binding induced gene expression. The work highlights one path genes can take to evolve new functions.

Mol. Biol. Evol. 10.1093/molbev/msu213 (2014).

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