The origin of genes in pieces: Tracing the spread of introns during eukaryogenesis
Eukaryotic genes are interspersed with introns, of which a large number can be traced back to the last eukaryotic common ancestor (LECA). Certain gene duplications predating LECA share ancestrally conserved intron positions. These paralogous intron positions provide a unique and currently not exploited means to shed light on the ordering of crucial events in early eukaryotes. We detected many more paralogous introns in a large set of duplicated families than a previous large-scale study, which was based on only a handful of genomes. Using the information from shared intron positions is a promising method to trace the rise in cellular and genomic complexity during early eukaryotic evolution.