We present evidence of remarkable genome-wide mobility and evolutionary expansion for a class of protein domains whose borders locate close to the borders of their encoding exons. These exon-bordering domains are more numerous and widely distributed in the human genome than other domains. They also co-occur with more diverse domains to form a larger variety of domain architectures in human proteins. A systematic comparison of nine animal genomes from nematodes to mammals revealed that exon-bordering domains expanded faster than other protein domains in both abundance and distribution, as well as the diversity of co-occurring domains and the domain architectures of harboring proteins. Furthermore, exon-bordering domains exhibited a particularly strong preference for class 1-1 intron phase. Our findings suggest that exon-bordering domains were amplified and interchanged within a genome more often and/or more successfully than other domains during evolution, probably the result of extensive exon shuffling and gene duplication events. The diverse biological functions of these domains underscore the important role they play in the expansion and diversification of animal proteomes.
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