Antagonistic pleiotropy is the name given to the phenomenon in which evolutionary processes select for a genetic variant that aids in evolutionary fitness when young, but then causes harm to the individual later in life. Many theorists consider aging as a whole to be antagonistic pleiotropy writ large, but one can pick out individual mechanisms in many species that are compelling candidates to be the result of such a process. In the open access paper noted here, the authors point out one plausibly pleiotropic set of genes in our species.
Expansion of gene families with the concomitant acquisition of new functions can be a driving force for the evolutionary differentiation of species. Compared to other mammals, primate and human genomes include many interspersed segmental duplications, which may have been of special relevance for the evolution of the primate lineage. About 430 blocks of the human genome have been identified as having been subject to multiple duplications during hominoid evolution. Clustering analysis of these segmentally duplicated regions in the human genome suggests that a part of the duplication blocks have formed around a “core” or “seed” duplicon.
The SPATA31 gene family belongs to the core duplicon gene families and
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