After gene duplication, mutations cause the gene copies to diverge. The classical model predicts that these mutations will generally lead to the loss of function of one gene copy; rarely, new functions will be created and both duplicate genes are conserved. In contrast, under the subfunctionalization model both duplicates are preserved due to the partition of different functions between the duplicates. A recent study provides support for the subfunctionalization model, identifying several expressed gene duplicates common to humans and mice that contain regions conserved in one duplicate but variable in the other (and vice versa). We discuss both the methodology used in this study and also how gene phylogeny may lead to additional evidence for the importance of subfunctionalization in the evolution of new genes.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.