Recurrent mutations promote widespread structural and functional divergence of MULE-derived genes in plants

Geun Young Chae, Woo Jong Hong, Min Jeong Jang, Ki Hong Jung, Seungill Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Transposable element (TE)-derived genes are increasingly recognized as major sources conferring essential traits in agriculturally important crops but underlying evolutionary mechanisms remain obscure. We updated previous annotations and constructed 18,744 FAR-RED IMPAIRED RESPONSE1 (FAR1) genes, a transcription factor family derived from Mutator-like elements (MULEs), from 80 plant species, including 15,546 genes omitted in previous annotations. In-depth sequence comparison of the updated gene repertoire revealed that FAR1 genes underwent continuous structural divergence via frameshift and nonsense mutations that caused premature translation termination or specific domain truncations. CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing and transcriptome analysis determined a novel gene involved in fertility-regulating transcription of rice pollen, denoting the functional capacity of our re-annotated gene models especially in monocots which had the highest copy numbers. Genomic evidence showed that the functional gene adapted by obtaining a shortened form through a frameshift mutation caused by a tandem duplication of a 79-bp sequence resulting in premature translation termination. Our findings provide improved resources for comprehensive studies of FAR1 genes with beneficial agricultural traits and unveil novel evolutionary mechanisms generating structural divergence and subsequent adaptation of TE-derived genes in plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11765-11777
Number of pages13
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - 18 Nov 2021


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