The recent work of the Jackson group and collaborators ( Bornberg Lab, University of Münster and Findlay Lab, College of the Holy Cross) was published in the prestigious journal 'Nature Communications". The article "Structural and functional characterization of a putative de novo gene in Drosophila" (DOI: doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21667-6) is an in depth study into how and when the structures of encoded de novo proteins emerge and evolve.
This work was also featured in a Science Daily, Science News story Titled "How protein essential for male fertility emerged", on the 12 March. Please check out the article here which runs through the published work and looks into the "evolutionary history of how a protein -- which is essential for the fertility of male fruit flies and emerged from previously non-coding DNA became functional and took on a relatively stable structure".
"Comparative genomic studies have repeatedly shown that new protein-coding genes can emerge de novo from noncoding DNA. Still unknown is how and when the structures of encoded de novo proteins emerge and evolve. Combining biochemical, genetic and evolutionary analyses, we elucidate the function and structure of goddard, a gene which appears to have evolved de novo at least 50 million years ago within the Drosophila genus. Previous studies found that goddard is required for male fertility. Here, we show that Goddard protein localizes to elongating sperm axonemes and that in its absence, elongated spermatids fail to undergo individualization. Combining modelling, NMR and circular dichroism (CD) data, we show that Goddard protein contains a large central α-helix, but is otherwise partially disordered. We find similar results for Goddard’s orthologs from divergent fly species and their reconstructed ancestral sequences. Accordingly, Goddard’s structure appears to have been maintained with only minor changes over millions of years."