The biology of intron gain and loss

Trends Genet. 2006 Jan;22(1):16-22. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2005.10.006. Epub 2005 Nov 14.


Intron density in eukaryote genomes varies by more than three orders of magnitude, so there must have been extensive intron gain and/or intron loss during evolution. A favored and partial explanation for this range of intron densities has been that introns have accumulated stochastically in large eukaryote genomes during their evolution from an intron-poor ancestor. However, recent studies have shown that some eukaryotes lost many introns, whereas others accumulated and/or gained many introns. In this article, we discuss the growing evidence that these differences are subject to selection acting on introns depending on the biology of the organism and the gene involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Eukaryotic Cells
  • Humans
  • Introns*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Selection, Genetic