Protein intrinsic disorder negatively associates with gene age in different eukaryotic lineages

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Research Article

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Molecular BioSystems


The emergence of new protein-coding genes in a specific lineage or species provides raw materials for evolutionary adaptations. Until recently, the biology of new genes emerging particularly from non-genic sequences remained unexplored. Although the new genes are subjected to variable selection pressure and face rapid deletion, some of them become functional and are retained in the gene pool. To acquire functional novelties, new genes often get integrated into the pre-existing ancestral networks. However, the mechanism by which young proteins acquire novel interactions remains unanswered till date. Since structural orientation contributes hugely to the mode of proteins' physical interactions, in this regard, we put forward an interesting question-Do new genes encode proteins with stable folds? Addressing the question, we demonstrated that the intrinsic disorder inversely correlates with the evolutionary gene ages-i.e. young proteins are richer in intrinsic disorder than the ancient ones. We further noted that young proteins, which are initially poorly connected hubs, prefer to be structurally more disordered than well-connected ancient proteins. The phenomenon strikingly defies the usual trend of well-connected proteins being highly disordered in structure. We justified that structural disorder might help poorly connected young proteins to undergo promiscuous interactions, which provides the foundation for novel protein interactions. The study focuses on the evolutionary perspectives of young proteins in the light of structural adaptations.

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