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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
During evolution selection forces such as changing environments shape the architecture of genomes. The distribution of genes along chromosomes and the length of intragenic regions are basic genomic features known to play a major role in the regulation of gene transcription and translation.
In this work we perform the first large scale analysis of the length distribution of untranslated regions (promoters, 5' and 3' untranslated regions, terminators) in the genome of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Our analysis shows that the length of each open reading frame (ORF) and that of its associated regulatory and untranslated regions significantly correlate with each other. Moreover, significant correlations with other features related to gene expression and evolution (number of regulating transcription factors, mRNA and protein abundance, evolutionary rate, etc) were observed. Furthermore, the function of genes seems to have an important role in the evolution of these lengths. Notably, genes that are related to RNA metabolism tend to have shorter untranslated regions and thus tend to be closer to their neighbouring genes while genes coding for cell wall proteins tend to be isolated in the genome.
These results indicate that genome architecture has a significant role in regulating gene expression, and in shaping the characteristics and functionality of proteins.