Hypothesis

Nature 440, 41-45 (2 March 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04531

Introns and the origin of nucleus–cytosol compartmentalization

William Martin1 and Eugene V. Koonin2

The origin of the eukaryotic nucleus marked a seminal evolutionary transition. We propose that the nuclear envelope's incipient function was to allow mRNA splicing, which is slow, to go to completion so that translation, which is fast, would occur only on mRNA with intact reading frames. The rapid, fortuitous spread of introns following the origin of mitochondria is adduced as the selective pressure that forged nucleus–cytosol compartmentalization.

  1. Institute of Botany III, University of Düsseldorf, D-40225 Düsseldorf, Germany
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20894, USA

Correspondence to: William Martin1 Correspondence should be addressed to W.M. (Email: w.martin@uni-duesseldorf.de).

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