Structural and functional characterization of a putative de novo gene in Drosophila

Andreas Lange, Prajal H. Patel, Brennen Heames, Adam M. Damry, Thorsten Saenger, Colin J. Jackson, Geoffrey D. Findlay*, Erich Bornberg-Bauer*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Comparative genomic studies have repeatedly shown that new protein-coding genes can emerge de novo from noncoding DNA. Still unknown is how and when the structures of encoded de novo proteins emerge and evolve. Combining biochemical, genetic and evolutionary analyses, we elucidate the function and structure of goddard, a gene which appears to have evolved de novo at least 50 million years ago within the Drosophila genus. Previous studies found that goddard is required for male fertility. Here, we show that Goddard protein localizes to elongating sperm axonemes and that in its absence, elongated spermatids fail to undergo individualization. Combining modelling, NMR and circular dichroism (CD) data, we show that Goddard protein contains a large central α-helix, but is otherwise partially disordered. We find similar results for Goddard’s orthologs from divergent fly species and their reconstructed ancestral sequences. Accordingly, Goddard’s structure appears to have been maintained with only minor changes over millions of years.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1667
    JournalNature Communications
    Volume12
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

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