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Age-dependent gain of alternative splice forms and biased duplication explain the relation between splicing and duplication.
We analyze here the relation between alternative splicing and gene duplication in light of recent genomic data, with a focus on the human genome. We show that the previously reported negative correlation between level of alternative splicing and family size no longer holds true. We clarify this pattern and show that it is sufficiently explained by two factors. First, genes progressively gain new splice variants with time. The gain is consistent with a selectively relaxed regime, until purifying selection slows it down as aging genes accumulate a large number of variants. Second, we show that duplication does not lead to a loss of splice forms, but rather that genes with low levels of alternative splicing tend to duplicate more frequently. This leads us to reconsider the role of alternative splicing in duplicate retention.
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