The Relationship between Gene Isoform Multiplicity, Number of Exons and Protein Divergence

Jordi Morata, Santi Béjar, David Talavera, Casandra Riera, Sergio Lois, Gemma Mas de Xaxars, Xavier de la Cruz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    At present we know that phenotypic differences between organisms arise from a variety of sources, like protein sequence divergence, regulatory sequence divergence, alternative splicing, etc. However, we do not have yet a complete view of how these sources are related. Here we address this problem, studying the relationship between protein divergence and the ability of genes to express multiple isoforms. We used three genome-wide datasets of human-mouse orthologs to study the relationship between isoform multiplicity co-occurrence between orthologs (the fact that two orthologs have more than one isoform) and protein divergence. In all cases our results showed that there was a monotonic dependence between these two properties. We could explain this relationship in terms of a more fundamental one, between exon number of the largest isoform and protein divergence. We found that this last relationship was present, although with variations, in other species (chimpanzee, cow, rat, chicken, zebrafish and fruit fly). In summary, we have identified a relationship between protein divergence and isoform multiplicity co-occurrence and explained its origin in terms of a simple gene-level property. Finally, we discuss the biological implications of these findings for our understanding of inter-species phenotypic differences. © 2013 Morata et al.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere72742
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2013


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