Vertebrate-type intron-rich genes in the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilii.
Previous genome comparisons have suggested that one important trend in vertebrate evolution has been a sharp rise in intron abundance. By using genomic data and expressed sequence tags from the marine annelid Platynereis dumerilii, we provide direct evidence that about two-thirds of human introns predate the bilaterian radiation but were lost from insect and nematode genomes to a large extent. A comparison of coding exon sequences confirms the ancestral nature of Platynereis and human genes. Thus, the urbilaterian ancestor had complex, intron-rich genes that have been retained in Platynereis and human.