Overlapping genes in the human and mouse genomes

Article (PDF Available)inBMC Genomics 9(1):169 · February 2008with16 Reads
DOI: 10.1186/1471-2164-9-169 · Source: PubMed
Increasing evidence suggests that overlapping genes are much more common in eukaryotic genomes than previously thought. In this study we identified and characterized the overlapping genes in a set of 13,484 pairs of human-mouse orthologous genes. About 10% of the genes under study are overlapping genes, the majority of which are different-strand overlaps. The majority of the same-strand overlaps are embedded forms, whereas most different-strand overlaps are not embedded and in the convergent transcription orientation. Most of the same-strand overlapping gene pairs show at least a tenfold difference in length, much larger than the length difference between non-overlapping neighboring gene pairs. The length difference between the two different-strand overlapping genes is less dramatic. Over 27% of the different-strand-overlap relationships are shared between human and mouse, compared to only approximately 8% conservation for same-strand-overlap relationships. More than 96% of the same-strand and different-strand overlaps that are not shared between human and mouse have both genes located on the same chromosomes in the species that does not show the overlap. We examined the causes of transition between the overlapping and non-overlapping states in the two species and found that 3' UTR change plays an important role in the transition. Our study contributes to the understanding of the evolutionary transition between overlapping genes and non-overlapping genes and demonstrates the high rates of evolutionary changes in the un-translated regions.

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    • "Such an organization of the genome in viruses, bacteria and mitochondria is understandable and proo vides compactness, as well as increasing the efficiency of gene regulation [92, 93]. Overlapping genes are also found in the human genome, and up to 10% of all genes are such overlapping genes [88, 89]. The purpose of overlapping genes is unclear, but it may be assumed that the overlapping genes in a pair mutually influence each other, at least at the level of transcription [32]. "
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