Exon size distribution and the origin of introns

Sigurbjorg Gudlaugsdottir*, D. Ross Boswell, Graham R. Wood, Jun Ma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Since it was first recognised that eukaryotic genes are fragmented into coding segments (exons) separated by non-coding segments (introns), the reason for this phenomenon has been debated. There are two dominant theories: that the piecewise arrangement of genes allows functional protein domains, represented by exons, to recombine by shuffling to form novel proteins with combinations of functions; or that introns represent parasitic DNA that can infest the eukaryotic genome because it does not interfere grossly with the fitness of its host. Differing distributions of exon lengths are predicted by these two theories. In this paper we examine distributions of exon lengths for six different organisms and find that they offer empirical evidence that both theories may in part be correct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

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