The Role of Introns in Repeat Protein Gene Formation

Timothy O. Street, George D. Rose, Doug Barrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Genes composed of tandem repetitive sequence motifs are abundant in nature and are enriched in eukaryotes. To investigate repeat protein gene formation mechanisms, we have conducted a large-scale analysis of their introns and exons. We find that a wide variety of repeat motifs exhibit a striking conservation of intron position and phase, and are composed of exons that encode one or two complete repeats. These results suggest a simple model of repeat protein gene formation from local duplications. This model is corroborated by amino acid sequence similarity patterns among neighboring repeats from various repeat protein genes. The distribution of one- and two-repeat exons indicates that intron-facilitated repeat motif duplication, in which the start and end points of duplication are located in consecutive intronic regions, significantly exceeds intron-independent duplication. These results suggest that introns have contributed to the greater abundance of repeat protein genes in eukaryotic versus prokaryotic organisms, a conclusion that is supported by taxonomic analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-266
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 7 2006


  • exons
  • geneformation
  • introns
  • local duplication
  • repeat protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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