• Origins and Evolution of MicroRNA Genes in Drosophila Species

      Nozawa, Masafumi; Miura, Sayaka; Nei, Masatoshi (2010)
      MicroRNAs (miRs) regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level. To obtain some insights into the origins and evolutionary patterns of miR genes, we have identified miR genes in the genomes of 12 Drosophila species by bioinformatics approaches and examined their evolutionary changes. The results showed that the extant and ancestral Drosophila species had more than 100 miR genes and frequent gains and losses of miR genes have occurred during evolution. Although many miR genes appear to have originated from random hairpin structures in intronic or intergenic regions, duplication of miR genes has also contributed to the generation of new miR genes. Estimating the rate of nucleotide substitution of miR genes, we have found that newly arisen miR genes have a substitution rate similar to that of synonymous nucleotide sites in protein-coding genes and evolve almost neutrally. This suggests that most new miR genes have not acquired any important function and would become inactive. By contrast, old miR genes show a substitution rate much lower than the synonymous rate. Moreover, paired and unpaired nucleotide sites of miR genes tend to remain unchanged during evolution. Therefore, once miR genes acquired their functions, they appear to have evolved very slowly, maintaining essentially the same structures for a long time.
    • PoInTree: A Polar and Interactive Phylogenetic Tree

      Marco, Carreras; Eleonora, Gianti; Luca, Sartori; Edward, Plyte Simon; Antonella, Isacchi; Roberta, Bosotti (2005)
      PoInTree (Polar and Interactive Tree) is an application that allows to build, visualize and customize phylogenetic trees in a polar interactive and highly flexible view. It takes as input a FASTA file or multiple alignment formats. Phylogenetic tree calculation is based on a sequence distance method and utilizes the Neighbor Joining (NJ) algorithm. It also allows displaying precalculated trees of the major protein families based on Pfam classification. In PoInTree, nodes can be dynamically opened and closed and distances between genes are graphically represented. Tree root can be centered on a selected leaf. Text search mechanism, color-coding and labeling display are integrated. The visualizer can be connected to an Oracle database containing information on sequences and other biological data, helping to guide their interpretation within a given protein family across multiple species. The application is written in Borland Delphi and based on VCL Teechart Pro 6 graphical component (Steema software).