Family expansion and gene rearrangements contributed to the functional specialization of PRDM genes in vertebrates

Irene Fumasoni, Natalia Meani, Davide Rambaldi, Gaia Scafetta, Myriam Alcalay, Francesca D. Ciccarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Progressive diversification of paralogs after gene expansion is essential to increase their functional specialization. However, mode and tempo of this divergence remain mostly unclear. Here we report the comparative analysis of PRDM genes, a family of putative transcriptional regulators involved in human tumorigenesis. Results. Our analysis assessed that the PRDM genes originated in metazoans, expanded in vertebrates and further duplicated in primates. We experimentally showed that fast-evolving paralogs are poorly expressed, and that the most recent duplicates, such as primate-specific PRDM7, acquire tissue-specificity. PRDM7 underwent major structural rearrangements that decreased the number of encoded Zn-Fingers and modified gene splicing. Through internal duplication and activation of a non-canonical splice site (GC-AG), PRDM7 can acquire a novel intron. We also detected an alternative isoform that can retain the intron in the mature transcript and that is predominantly expressed in human melanocytes. Conclusion. Our findings show that (a) molecular evolution of paralogs correlates with their expression pattern; (b) gene diversification is obtained through massive genomic rearrangements; and (c) splicing modification contributes to the functional specialization of novel genes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number187
JournalBMC Evolutionary Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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