In an article entitled, “Proto-genes and de novo gene birth” published online on 24th June issue of Nature, Marc Vidal and 15 other associates affiliated to the Center for Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB) and Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts have described the birth of new genes. Their findings reveal that novel protein –coding genes may arise either through reorganization of pre-existing genes or de novo. The authors have proposed that functional genes evolve de novo through transitory protogenes. According to them functional genes originate by translation in non-genic sequences. They have tested their hypothesis at the genome level in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). They have detected there hundreds of short species-specific ORFs (open reading frames) located in non-genic sequences.
Here they have proposed a model according to which functional genes evolve de novo through transitory proto-genes generated by widespread translational activity in non-genic sequences. Testing this model at the genome scale in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the authors detected translation of hundreds of short species-specific open reading frames (ORFs) located in non-genic sequences. They have identified approximately 1,900 candidate proto-genes among S. cerevisiae ORFs and found that de novo gene birth from such a reservoir is more wide spread that what was considered previously in sporadic gene duplication.