The evolution of spliceosomal introns: patterns, puzzles and progress

Nat Rev Genet. 2006 Mar;7(3):211-21. doi: 10.1038/nrg1807.


The origins and importance of spliceosomal introns comprise one of the longest-abiding mysteries of molecular evolution. Considerable debate remains over several aspects of the evolution of spliceosomal introns, including the timing of intron origin and proliferation, the mechanisms by which introns are lost and gained, and the forces that have shaped intron evolution. Recent important progress has been made in each of these areas. Patterns of intron-position correspondence between widely diverged eukaryotic species have provided insights into the origins of the vast differences in intron number between eukaryotic species, and studies of specific cases of intron loss and gain have led to progress in understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms and the forces that control intron evolution.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Humans
  • Introns / genetics*
  • RNA Splicing / genetics*
  • Spliceosomes / genetics*