Table of Contents
International Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 596274, 10 pages
Review Article

Alternative Splicing: A Potential Source of Functional Innovation in the Eukaryotic Genome

Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK

Received 11 February 2012; Revised 19 April 2012; Accepted 7 May 2012

Academic Editor: Ben-Yang Liao

Copyright © 2012 Lu Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Alternative splicing (AS) is a common posttranscriptional process in eukaryotic organisms, by which multiple distinct functional transcripts are produced from a single gene. The release of the human genome draft revealed a much smaller number of genes than anticipated. Because of its potential role in expanding protein diversity, interest in alternative splicing has been increasing over the last decade. Although recent studies have shown that 94% human multiexon genes undergo AS, evolution of AS and thus its potential role in functional innovation in eukaryotic genomes remain largely unexplored. Here we review available evidence regarding the evolution of AS prevalence and functional role. In addition we stress the need to correct for the strong effect of transcript coverage in AS detection and set out a strategy to ultimately elucidate the extent of the role of AS in functional innovation on a genomic scale.