Preservation of a pseudogene by gene conversion and diversifying selection

Shohei Takuno, Takeshi Nishio, Yoko Satta, Hideki Innan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Interlocus gene conversion is considered a crucial mechanism for generating novel combinations of polymorphisms in duplicated genes. The importance of gene conversion between duplicated genes has been recognized in the major histocompatibility complex and self-incompatibility genes, which are likely subject to diversifying selection. To theoretically understand the potential role of gene conversion in such situations, forward simulations are performed in various two-locus models. The results show that gene conversion could significantly increase the number of haplotypes when diversifying selection works on both loci. We find that the tract length of gene conversion is an important factor to determine the efficacy of gene conversion: shorter tract lengths can more effectively generate novel haplotypes given the gene conversion rate per site is the same. Similar results are also obtained when one of the duplicated genes is assumed to be a pseudogene. It is suggested that a duplicated gene, even after being silenced, will contribute to increasing the variability in the other locus through gene conversion. Consequently, the fixation probability and longevity of duplicated genes increase under the presence of gene conversion. On the basis of these findings, we propose a new scenario for the preservation of a duplicated gene: when the original donor gene is under diversifying selection, a duplicated copy can be preserved by gene conversion even after it is pseudogenized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-531
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Sept
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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