Novel and divergent genes in the evolution of placental mammals

Thomas L. Dunwell, Jordi Paps, Peter W.H. Holland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Analysis of genome sequences within a phylogenetic context can give insight into the mode and tempo of gene and protein evolution, including inference of gene ages. This can reveal whether new genes arose on particular evolutionary lineages and were recruited for new functional roles. Here, we apply MCL clustering with all-versus-all reciprocal BLASTP to identify and phylogenetically date ‘Homology Groups’ among vertebrate proteins. Homology Groups include new genes and highly divergent duplicate genes. Focusing on the origin of the placental mammals within the Eutheria, we identify 357 novel Homology Groups that arose on the stem lineage of Placentalia, 87 of which are deduced to play core roles in mammalian biology as judged by extensive retention in evolution. We find the human homologues of novel eutherian genes are enriched for expression in preimplantation embryo, brain, and testes, and enriched for functions in keratinization, reproductive development, and the immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20171357
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1864
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2017


  • Eutheria
  • MCL clustering
  • Molecular evolution
  • New genes
  • Placentalia

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