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Gene duplication as a major force in evolution.

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Chromosomal Deletion, Inversion, Duplication and Translocation

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Evolution by Gene Duplication. Evolution and Cooperation in Transposable Elements. Much like humans, gene duplicates may be created equal, but they do not stay that way for long. Many of them get eliminated through deleterious mutations, others diverge in sequence and function, but the remainder may retain similar functions for a long time.

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What role does natural selection play in this divergence? How do new gene functions arise? Do gene duplications cause an increase in gene expression? Does this increase carry a significant energy cost?

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These are some of the questions we are asking about gene duplications. Despite the divergence of most duplicate genes, some genes with overlapping functions have been retained, in some cases for hundreds of millions of years. Examples include the many partially redundant genes in vertebrates, the result of ancient gene duplications in primitive chordates.

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  • Gene duplicates with similar functions may provide robustness against mutations, environmental change, and noise. Does natural selection retain some duplicates with similar functions because of the robustness they can provide? Using the apparatus of mathematical population genetics, we showed that natural selection can maintain redundant gene duplicates in sufficiently large populations.