Novel genes derived from noncoding DNA in Drosophila melanogaster are frequently X-linked and exhibit testis-biased expression
Descriptions of recently evolved genes suggest several mechanisms of origin including exon shuffling, gene fission/fusion, retrotransposition, duplication-divergence, and lateral gene transfer, all of which involve recruitment of preexisting genes or genetic elements into new function. The importance of noncoding DNA in the origin of novel genes remains an open question. We used the well annotated genome of the genetic model system Drosophila melanogaster and genome sequences of related species to carry out a whole-genome search for new D. melanogaster genes that are derived from noncoding DNA. Here, we describe five such genes, four of which are X-linked. Our RT-PCR experiments show that all five putative novel genes are expressed predominantly in testes. These data support the idea that these novel genes are derived from ancestral noncoding sequence and that new, favored genes are likely to invade populations under selective pressures relating to male reproduction.