Carl Zimmer has a post covering three recent papers on gene duplication: one on amylase variation in humans, one on whole genome duplication in yeast, and one on duplications of genes in the Drosophila arizonae reproductive tract. In all three papers, results are presented showing the importance of duplicated genes in adapting to the environment.
Now, gene duplication isn’t anything new around these parts. Those who know me know that I have a bit of an interest in gene duplication. Those who don’t, well, consider yourself informed that I have a bit of an interest in gene duplication.
Many of the genes identified here are likely to be important to lineage-specific traits including, for example, human-specific duplications of the AQP7 gene, which represent intriguing candidates to underlie the key physiological adaptations in thermoregulation and energy utilization that permitted human endurance running.
I guess we’re predisposed for marathon running because certain genes were duplicated in our genomes. Add that to the amylase duplications that give us the right saliva for our preferred diet. Of course, amylase duplications aren’t anything new; Drosophila geneticists have been studying duplicated amylase genes for years.