Structural and functional characterization of a putative de novo gene in Drosophila




Lange, Andreas
Patel, Prajal H.
Heames, Brennen
Damry, Adam
Saenger, Thorsten
Jackson, Colin
Findlay, Geoffrey D.
Bornberg-Bauer, Erich

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Nature Research


Comparative genomic studies have repeatedly shown that new protein-coding genes can emerge de novo from noncoding DNA. Still unknown is how and when the structures of encoded de novo proteins emerge and evolve. Combining biochemical, genetic and evolutionary analyses, we elucidate the function and structure of goddard, a gene which appears to have evolved de novo at least 50 million years ago within the Drosophila genus. Previous studies found that goddard is required for male fertility. Here, we show that Goddard protein localizes to elongating sperm axonemes and that in its absence, elongated spermatids fail to undergo individualization. Combining modelling, NMR and circular dichroism (CD) data, we show that Goddard protein contains a large central alpha -helix, but is otherwise partially disordered. We find similar results for Goddard's orthologs from divergent fly species and their reconstructed ancestral sequences. Accordingly, Goddard's structure appears to have been maintained with only minor changes over millions of years. Previous work identified goddard as a putative de novo evolved gene in Drosophila melanogaster. Here, the authors characterize the structure and function of the Goddard protein in D. melanogaster, and they infer its ancestral and extant structures across the Drosophila genus.





Nature Communications


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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License



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