A search for reverse transcriptase-coding sequences reveals new non-LTR retrotransposons in the genome of Drosophila melanogaster.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Non-long terminal repeat (non-LTR) retrotransposons are eukaryotic mobile genetic elements that transpose by reverse transcription of an RNA intermediate. We have performed a systematic search for sequences matching the characteristic reverse transcriptase domain of non-LTR retrotransposons in the sequenced regions of the Drosophila melanogaster genome. RESULTS: In addition to previously characterized BS, Doc, F, G, I and Jockey elements, we have identified new non-LTR retrotransposons: Waldo, You and JuanDm. Waldo elements are related to mosquito RTI elements. You to the Drosophila I factor, and JuanDm to mosquito Juan-A and Juan-C. Interestingly, all JuanDm elements are highly homogeneous in sequence, suggesting that they are recent components of the Drosophila genome. CONCLUSIONS: The genome of D. melanogaster contains at least ten families of non-site-specific non-LTR retrotransposons representing three distinct clades. Many of these families contain potentially active members. Fine evolutionary analyses must await the more accurate sequences that are expected in the next future.
Project description:In contrast to DNA-mediated transposable elements (TEs), retrotransposons, particularly non-long terminal repeat retrotransposons (non-LTRs), are generally considered to have a much lower propensity towards horizontal transfer. Detailed studies on site-specific non-LTR families have demonstrated strict vertical transmission. More studies are needed with non-site-specific non-LTR families to determine whether strict vertical transmission is a phenomenon related to site specificity or a more general characteristic of all non-LTRs. Juan is a Jockey clade non-LTR retrotransposon first discovered in mosquitoes that is widely distributed in the mosquito family Culicidae. Being a non-site specific non-LTR, Juan offers an opportunity to further investigate the hypothesis that non-LTRs are genomic elements that are primarily vertically transmitted.Systematic analysis of the ~1.3 Gbp Aedes aegypti (Ae. aegypti) genome sequence suggests that Juan-A is the only Juan-type non-LTR in Aedes aegypti. Juan-A is highly reiterated and comprises approximately 3% of the genome. Using minimum cutoffs of 90% length and 70% nucleotide (nt) identity, 663 copies were found by BLAST using the published Juan-A sequence as the query. All 663 copies are at least 95% identical to Juan-A, while 378 of these copies are 99% identical to Juan-A, indicating that the Juan-A family has been transposing recently in evolutionary history. Using the 0.34 Kb 5' UTR as the query, over 2000 copies were identified that may contain internal promoters, leading to questions on the genomic impact of Juan-A. Juan sequences were obtained by PCR, library screening, and database searches for 18 mosquito species of six genera including Aedes, Ochlerotatus, Psorophora, Culex, Deinocerites, and Wyeomyia. Comparison of host and Juan phylogenies shows overall congruence with few exceptions.Juan-A is a major genomic component in Ae. aegypti and it has been retrotransposing recently in evolutionary history. There are also indications that Juan has been recently active in a wide range of mosquito species. Furthermore, our research demonstrates that a Jockey clade non-LTR without target site-specificity has been sustained by vertical transmission in the mosquito family. These results strengthen the argument that non-LTRs tend to be genomic elements capable of persistence by vertical descent over a long evolutionary time.
Project description:Movement of transposons causes insertions, deletions, and chromosomal rearrangements potentially leading to premature lethality in Drosophila melanogaster. To repress these elements and combat genomic instability, eukaryotes have evolved several small RNA-mediated defense mechanisms. Specifically, in Drosophila somatic cells, endogenous small interfering (esi)RNAs suppress retrotransposon mobility. EsiRNAs are produced by Dicer-2 processing of double-stranded RNA precursors, yet the origins of these precursors are unknown. We show that most transposon families are transcribed in both the sense (S) and antisense (AS) direction in Dmel-2 cells. LTR retrotransposons Dm297, mdg1, and blood, and non-LTR retrotransposons juan and jockey transcripts, are generated from intraelement transcription start sites with canonical RNA polymerase II promoters. We also determined that retrotransposon antisense transcripts are less polyadenylated than sense. RNA-seq and small RNA-seq revealed that Dicer-2 RNA interference (RNAi) depletion causes a decrease in the number of esiRNAs mapping to retrotransposons and an increase in expression of both S and AS retrotransposon transcripts. These data support a model in which double-stranded RNA precursors are derived from convergent transcription and processed by Dicer-2 into esiRNAs that silence both sense and antisense retrotransposon transcripts. Reduction of sense retrotransposon transcripts potentially lowers element-specific protein levels to prevent transposition. This mechanism preserves genomic integrity and is especially important for Drosophila fitness because mobile genetic elements are highly active.
Project description:Computational methods for genome-wide identification of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) have become increasingly necessary for both genome annotation and evolutionary studies. Non-long terminal repeat (non-LTR) retrotransposons are a class of MGEs that have been found in most eukaryotic genomes, sometimes in extremely high numbers. In this article, we present a computational tool, MGEScan-non-LTR, for the identification of non-LTR retrotransposons in genomic sequences, following a computational approach inspired by a generalized hidden Markov model (GHMM). Three different states represent two different protein domains and inter-domain linker regions encoded in the non-LTR retrotransposons, and their scores are evaluated by using profile hidden Markov models (for protein domains) and Gaussian Bayes classifiers (for linker regions), respectively. In order to classify the non-LTR retrotransposons into one of the 12 previously characterized clades using the same model, we defined separate states for different clades. MGEScan-non-LTR was tested on the genome sequences of four eukaryotic organisms, Drosophila melanogaster, Daphnia pulex, Ciona intestinalis and Strongylocentrotus purpuratus. For the D. melanogaster genome, MGEScan-non-LTR found all known 'full-length' elements and simultaneously classified them into the clades CR1, I, Jockey, LOA and R1. Notably, for the D. pulex genome, in which no non-LTR retrotransposon has been annotated, MGEScan-non-LTR found a significantly larger number of elements than did RepeatMasker, using the current version of the RepBase Update library. We also identified novel elements in the other two genomes, which have only been partially studied for non-LTR retrotransposons.
Project description:Background:The use of large-scale genomic analyses has resulted in an improvement of transposable element sampling and a significant increase in the number of reported HTT (horizontal transfer of transposable elements) events by expanding the sampling of transposable element sequences in general and of specific families of these elements in particular, which were previously poorly sampled. In this study, we investigated the occurrence of HTT events in a group of elements that, until recently, were uncommon among the HTT records in Drosophila - the Jockey elements, members of the LINE (long interspersed nuclear element) order of non-LTR (long terminal repeat) retrotransposons. The sequences of 111 Jockey families deposited in Repbase that met the criteria of the analysis were used to identify Jockey sequences in 48 genomes of Drosophilidae (genus Drosophila, subgenus Sophophora: melanogaster, obscura and willistoni groups; subgenus Drosophila: immigrans, melanica, repleta, robusta, virilis and grimshawi groups; subgenus Dorsilopha: busckii group; genus/subgenus Zaprionus and genus Scaptodrosophila). Results:Phylogenetic analyses revealed 72 Jockey families in 41 genomes. Combined analyses revealed 15 potential HTT events between species belonging to different genera and species groups of Drosophilidae, providing evidence for the flow of genetic material favoured by the spatio-temporal sharing of these species present in the Palaeartic or Afrotropical region. Conclusions:Our results provide phylogenetic, biogeographic and temporal evidence of horizontal transfers of the Jockey elements, increase the number of rare records of HTT in specific families of LINE elements, increase the number of known occurrences of these events, and enable a broad understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of these elements and the host species.
Project description:Many Drosophila non-long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons actively transpose into internal, gene-rich regions of chromosomes but do not transpose onto chromosome ends. HeT-A and TART are remarkable exceptions; they form telomeres of Drosophila by repeated transpositions onto the ends of chromosomes and never transpose to internal regions of chromosomes. Both telomeric and nontelomeric, non-LTR elements transpose by target-primed reverse transcription, and their targets are not determined simply by DNA sequence, so it is not clear why these two kinds of elements have nonoverlapping transposition patterns. To explore roles of retrotransposon-encoded proteins in transposition, we analyzed intracellular targeting of Gag proteins from five non-LTR retrotransposons, HeT-A, TART, jockey, Doc, and I factor. All were expressed as green fluorescent protein-tagged proteins in cultured Drosophila cells. These Gag proteins have high levels of sequence similarity, but they have dramatic differences in intracellular targeting. As expected, HeT-A and TART Gags are transported efficiently to nuclei, where they show specific patterns of localization. These patterns are cell cycle-dependent, disappearing during mitosis. In contrast, only a fraction of jockey Gag moves into nuclei, whereas neither Doc nor I factor Gag is detected in the nucleus. Gags of the nontelomeric retrotransposons form characteristic clusters in the cytoplasm. These experiments demonstrate that closely related retrotransposon Gag proteins can have different intracellular localizations, presumably because they interact differently with cellular components. We suggest that these interactions reflect mechanisms by which the cell influences the level of transposition of an element.
Project description:Specific genomic loci, termed Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) clusters, manufacture piRNAs that serve as guides for the inactivation of complementary transposable elements (TEs). The piRNA pathway has been accurately detailed in Drosophila melanogaster, while it remains poorly examined in other insects. This pathway is increasingly recognized as critical for germline development and reproduction. Understanding of the piRNA functions in mosquitoes could offer an opportunity for disease vector control by the reduction of their reproductive potential.To analyze the similarities and differences in this pathway between Drosophila and mosquito, we performed an in-depth analysis of the genomic loci producing piRNAs and their targets in the African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. We identified 187 piRNA clusters in the An. gambiae genome and 155 piRNA clusters in the D. melanogaster genome. We demonstrate that many more piRNA clusters in the mosquito compared with the fruit fly are uni-directionally transcribed and are located outside pericentromeric heterochromatin. About 11 % of the An. gambiae piRNA population map to gene transcripts. This is a noticeable increase compared with the ~6 % of the piRNA population mapped to genes in D. melanogaster. A subset of the piRNA-enriched genes in An. gambiae has functions related to reproduction and development. At least 24 and 65 % of the mapped piRNAs correspond to genomic TE sequences in An. gambiae and D. melanogaster, respectively. DNA transposons and non-LTR retrotransposons are more abundant in An. gambiae, while LTR retrotransposons are more abundant in D. melanogaster. Yet, piRNAs predominantly target LTR retrotransposons in both species, which may point to a distinct feature of these elements compared to the other classes of TEs concerning their silencing by the piRNA pathway.Here, we demonstrate that piRNA-producing loci have more ubiquitous distribution in the An. gambiae genome than in the genome of D. melanogaster. Also, protein-coding genes have an increased role in production of piRNAs in the germline of this mosquito. Genes involved in germline and embryonic development of An. gambiae generate a substantial portion of piRNAs, suggesting a role of the piRNA pathway in the epigenetic regulation of the reproductive processes in the African malaria vector.
Project description:LTR and non-LTR retrotransposons exhibit distinct patterns of abundance within the Drosophila melanogaster genome, yet the causes of these differences remain unknown. Here we investigate whether genomic differences between LTR and non-LTR retrotransposons reflect systematic differences in their insertion history. We find that for 17 LTR and 10 non-LTR retrotransposon families that evolve under a pseudogene-like mode of evolution, most elements from LTR families have integrated in the very recent past since colonization of non-African habitats ( approximately 16,000 years ago), whereas elements from non-LTR families have been accumulating in overlapping waves since the divergence of D. melanogaster from its sister species, Drosophila simulans ( approximately 5.4 Mya). LTR elements are significantly younger than non-LTR elements, individually and by family, in regions of high and low recombination, and in genic and intergenic regions. We show that analysis of transposable element (TE) nesting provides a method to calculate transposition rates from genome sequences, which we estimate to be one to two orders of magnitude lower than those that are based on mutation accumulation studies. Recent LTR integration provides a nonequilibrium alternative for the low population frequency of LTR elements in this species, a pattern that is classically interpreted as evidence for selection against the transpositional increase of TEs. Our results call for a new class of population genetic models that incorporate TE copy number, allele frequency, and the age of insertions to provide more powerful and robust inferences about the forces that control the evolution of TEs in natural populations.
Project description:Drosophila telomeres do not have arrays of simple telomerase-generated G-rich repeats. Instead, Drosophila maintains its telomeres by occasional transposition of specific non-long terminal repeat (non-LTR) retrotransposons to chromosome ends. The genus Drosophila provides a superb model system for comparative telomere analysis. Here we present an evolutionary study of Drosophila telomeric elements to ascertain the significance of telomeric retrotransposons (TRs) in the maintenance of Drosophila telomeres. PCR and in silico surveys in the sibling species of Drosophila melanogaster and in more distantly related species show that multiple TRs maintain telomeres in Drosophila. In addition to TRs with two open reading frames (ORFs) capable of autonomous transposition, there are deleted telomeric retrotransposons that have lost their ORF2, which we refer to as half telomeric-retrotransposons (HTRs). The phylogenetic relationship among these telomeric elements is congruent with the phylogeny of the species, suggesting that they have been vertically inherited from a common ancestor. Our results suggest that an existing non-LTR retrotransposon was recruited to perform the cellular function of telomere maintenance.
Project description:The availability of the sequenced Drosophila melanogaster genome provides an opportunity to study sequence variation between copies within transposable element families. In this study,we analyzed the 624 copies of 22 transposable element (TE) families (14 LTR retrotransposons, five non-LTR retrotransposons, and three transposons). LTR and non-LTR retrotransposons possessed far fewer divergent elements than the transposons,suggesting that the difference depends on the transposition mechanism. However,there was not a continuous range of divergence of the copies in each class,which were either very similar to the canonical elements,or very divergent from them. This sequence homogeneity among TE family copies matches the theoretical models of the dynamics of these repeated sequences. The sequenced Drosophila genome thus appears to be composed of a mixture of TEs that are still active and of ancient relics that have degenerated and the distribution of which along the chromosomes results from natural selection. This clearly demonstrates that the TEs are highly active within the genome,suggesting that the genetic variability of the Drosophila genome is still being renewed by the action of TEs.
Project description:The Drosophila non-long terminal repeat (non-LTR) retrotransposons TART and HeT-A specifically retrotranspose to chromosome ends to maintain Drosophila telomeric DNA. Relatively little is known, though, about the regulation of their expression and their retrotransposition to telomeres. We have used rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) to identify multiple transcription initiation and polyadenylation sites for sense and antisense transcripts of three subfamilies of TART elements in Drosophila melanogaster. These results are consistent with the production of an array of TART transcripts. In contrast to other Drosophila non-LTR elements, a major initiation site for sense transcripts was mapped near the 3' end of the TART 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR), rather than at the start of the 5'-UTR. A sequence overlapping this sense start site contains a good match to an initiator consensus for the transcription start sites of Drosophila LTR retrotransposons. Interestingly, analysis of 5' RACE products for antisense transcripts and the GenBank EST database revealed that TART antisense transcripts contain multiple introns. Our results highlight differences between transcription of TART and of other Drosophila non-LTR elements and they provide a foundation for testing the relationship between exceptional aspects of TART transcription and TART's specialized role at telomeres.