Duplicate genes and robustness to transient gene knockouts in Caenorhabditis elegans

Gavin Conant, University of New Mexico

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We examine the role of single copy and duplicate genes in robustness to mutations in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. We do so by integrating complete genome sequence and micro-array gene expression data with results from a genome-scale study using RNA interference (RNAi) to temporarily eliminate the functions of more than 13,000 worm genes. 88.7% of single copy and 96% of duplicate genes show no detectable phenotypic effect in an RNAi knock-down experiment. We find that mutational robustness is greatest for closely related gene duplicates, large gene families, and similarly expressed genes.

Abstract Author(s): Gavin C. Conant and Andreas Wagner