Lengths of coding and noncoding regions of a gene correlate with gene essentiality and rates of evolution
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Gene length correlates with the coding evolutionary rates of genes. Although the ‘Hill-Robertson (HR) interference’ model was suggested as an explanation for the correlation, we present an alternative explanation for the relationship between gene length and evolutionary rate. First, genes with longer coding sequences were significantly more essential and evolved more slowly than genes with shorter CDSs, and they contained more functional domains within the gene. Surprisingly, the same trends held for the lengths of other subcomponents; genes that carried longer 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions and introns were more essential. Additionally, the noncoding subcomponents that had higher densities of conserved sites were longer. Furthermore, the density of conserved sites in a coding region of a gene was associated with the density of conserved sites in the noncoding regions of that gene. Finally, in all five vertebrate species that were tested, more functionally constrained genes tended to carry longer subcomponents.
KeywordsGene length Evolutionary rate Gene essentiality Functional constraint
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (NRF-2014R1A1A4A01003793). Authors would like to thank Sridhar Hannenhalli for his useful comments.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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