Alternative splicing and gene duplication are two major sources of proteomic function diversity. Here, we study the evolutionary trend of alternative splicing after gene duplication by analyzing the alternative splicing differences between duplicate genes. We observed that duplicate genes have fewer alternative splice (AS) forms than single-copy genes, and that a negative correlation exists between the mean number of AS forms and the gene family size. Interestingly, we found that the loss of alternative splicing in duplicate genes may occur shortly after the gene duplication. These results support the subfunctionization model of alternative splicing in the early stage after gene duplication. Further analysis of the alternative splicing distribution in human duplicate pairs showed the asymmetric evolution of alternative splicing after gene duplications; i.e., the AS forms between duplicates may differ dramatically. We therefore conclude that alternative splicing and gene duplication may not evolve independently. In the early stage after gene duplication, young duplicates may take over a certain amount of protein function diversity that previously was carried out by the alternative splicing mechanism. In the late stage, the gain and loss of alternative splicing seem to be independent between duplicates.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/xiaoqiu-huang/8/