Open questions in the study of de novo genes: What, how and why

Aoife McLysaght, Laurence D. Hurst

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

124 Citations (SciVal)


The study of de novo protein-coding genes is maturing from the ad hoc reporting of individual cases to the systematic analysis of extensive genomic data from several species. We identify three key challenges for this emerging field: understanding how best to identify de novo genes, how they arise and why they spread. We highlight the intellectual challenges of understanding how a de novo gene becomes integrated into pre-existing functions and becomes essential. We suggest that, as with protein sequence evolution, antagonistic co-evolution may be key to de novo gene evolution, particularly for new essential genes and new cancer-associated genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-578
Number of pages12
JournalNature Reviews Genetics
Issue number9
Early online date25 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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