Exploring the Remote Ties between Helitron Transposases and Other Rolling-Circle Replication Proteins.
ABSTRACT: Rolling-circle replication (RCR) elements constitute a diverse group that includes viruses, plasmids, and transposons, present in hosts from all domains of life. Eukaryotic RCR transposons, also known as Helitrons, are found in species from all eukaryotic kingdoms, sometimes representing a large portion of their genomes. Despite the impact of Helitrons on their hosts, knowledge about their relationship with other RCR elements is still elusive. Here, we compared the endonuclease domain sequence of Helitron transposases with the corresponding region from RCR proteins found in a wide variety of mobile genetic elements. To do that, we used a stepwise alignment approach followed by phylogenetic and multidimensional scaling analyses. Although it has been suggested that Helitrons might have originated from prokaryotic transposons or eukaryotic viruses, our results indicate that Helitron transposases share more similarities with proteins from prokaryotic viruses and plasmids instead. We also provide evidence for the division of RCR endonucleases into three groups (Y1, Y2, and Yx), covering the whole diversity of this protein family. Together, these results point to prokaryotic elements as the likely closest ancestors of eukaryotic RCR transposons, and further demonstrate the fluidity that characterizes the boundaries separating viruses, plasmids, and transposons.
Project description:All eukaryotic DNA transposons reported so far belong to a single category of elements transposed by the so-called "cut-and-paste" mechanism. Here, we report a previously unknown category of eukaryotic DNA transposons, Helitron, which transpose by rolling-circle replication. Autonomous Helitrons encode a 5'-to-3' DNA helicase and nuclease/ligase similar to those encoded by known rolling-circle replicons. Helitron-like transposons have conservative 5'-TC and CTRR-3' termini and do not have terminal inverted repeats. They contain 16- to 20-bp hairpins separated by 10--12 nucleotides from the 3'-end and transpose precisely between the 5'-A and T-3', with no modifications of the AT target sites. Together with their multiple diverged nonautonomous descendants, Helitrons constitute approximately 2% of both the Arabidopsis thaliana and Caenorhabditis elegans genomes and also colonize the Oriza sativa genome. Sequence conservation suggests that Helitrons continue to be transposed.
Project description:Transposons make up the bulk of eukaryotic genomes, but are difficult to annotate because they evolve rapidly. Most of the unannotated portion of sequenced genomes is probably made up of various divergent transposons that have yet to be categorized. Helitrons are unusual rolling circle eukaryotic transposons that often capture gene sequences, making them of considerable evolutionary importance. Unlike other DNA transposons, Helitrons do not end in inverted repeats or create target site duplications, so they are particularly challenging to identify. Here we present HelitronScanner, a two-layered local combinational variable (LCV) tool for generalized Helitron identification that represents a major improvement over previous identification programs based on DNA sequence or structure. HelitronScanner identified 64,654 Helitrons from a wide range of plant genomes in a highly automated way. We tested HelitronScanner's predictive ability in maize, a species with highly heterogeneous Helitron elements. LCV scores for the 5' and 3' termini of the predicted Helitrons provide a primary confidence level and element copy number provides a secondary one. Newly identified Helitrons were validated by PCR assays or by in silico comparative analysis of insertion site polymorphism among multiple accessions. Many new Helitrons were identified in model species, such as maize, rice, and Arabidopsis, and in a variety of organisms where Helitrons had not been reported previously to our knowledge, leading to a major upward reassessment of their abundance in plant genomes. HelitronScanner promises to be a valuable tool in future comparative and evolutionary studies of this major transposon superfamily.
Project description:Helitrons are class-II eukaryotic transposons that transpose via a rolling circle mechanism. Due to their ability to capture and mobilize gene fragments, they play an important role in the evolution of their host genomes. We have used a bioinformatics approach for the identification of helitrons in two Pleurotus ostreatus genomes using de novo detection and homology-based searching. We have analyzed the presence of helitron-captured genes as well as the expansion of helitron-specific helicases in fungi and performed a phylogenetic analysis of their conserved domains with other representative eukaryotic species.Our results show the presence of two helitron families in P. ostreatus that disrupt gene colinearity and cause a lack of synteny between their genomes. Both putative autonomous and non-autonomous helitrons were transcriptionally active, and some of them carried highly expressed captured genes of unknown origin and function. In addition, both families contained eukaryotic, bacterial and viral domains within the helitron's boundaries. A phylogenetic reconstruction of RepHel helicases using the Helitron-like and PIF1-like helicase conserved domains revealed a polyphyletic origin for eukaryotic helitrons.P. ostreatus helitrons display features similar to other eukaryotic helitrons and do not tend to capture host genes or gene fragments. The occurrence of genes probably captured from other hosts inside the helitrons boundaries pose the hypothesis that an ancient horizontal transfer mechanism could have taken place. The viral domains found in some of these genes and the polyphyletic origin of RepHel helicases in the eukaryotic kingdom suggests that virus could have played a role in a putative lateral transfer of helitrons within the eukaryotic kingdom. The high similarity of some helitrons, along with the transcriptional activity of its RepHel helicases indicates that these elements are still active in the genome of P. ostreatus.
Project description:As a major driving force of genome evolution, transposons have been deviating from their original connotation as "junk" DNA ever since their important roles were revealed. The recently discovered Helitron transposons have been investigated in diverse eukaryotic genomes because of their remarkable gene-capture ability and other features that are crucial to our current understanding of genome dynamics. Helitrons are not canonical transposons in that they do not end in inverted repeats or create target site duplications, which makes them difficult to identify. Previous methods mainly rely on sequence alignment of conserved Helitron termini or manual curation. The abundance of Helitrons in genomes is still underestimated. We developed an automated and generalized tool, HelitronScanner, that identified a plethora of divergent Helitrons in many plant genomes. A local combinational variable approach as the key component of HelitronScanner offers a more granular representation of conserved nucleotide combinations and therefore is more sensitive in finding divergent Helitrons. This commentary provides an in-depth view of the local combinational variable approach and its association with Helitron sequence patterns. Analysis of Helitron terminal sequences shows that the local combinational variable approach is an efficacious representation of nucleotide patterns imperceptible at a full-sequence level.
Project description:Background:Helitrons play an important role in shaping eukaryotic genomes due to their ability to transfer horizontally between distantly related species and capture gene fragments during the transposition. However, the mechanisms of horizontal transfer (HT) and the process of gene fragment capturing of Helitrons still remain to be further clarified. Results:Here, we characterized a novel Helitron family discontinuously distributed in 27 out of 256 insect genomes. The most prominent characteristic of Hel1 family is its high sequence similarity among species of different insect orders. Related elements were also identified in two spiders, representing the first report of spider Helitrons. All these elements were classified into 2 families, 9 subfamilies and 35 exemplars based on our new classification criteria. Autonomous partners of Helitron were reconstructed in the genomes of three insects and one spider. Integration pattern analysis showed that majority of Hel1A elements in Papilio xuthus and Pieris rapae inserted into introns. Consistent with filler DNA model, stepwise sequence acquisition was observed in Sfru_Hel1Aa, Sfru_Hel1Ab and Sfru_Hel1Ac in Spodoptera frugiperda. Remarkably, the evidence that Prap_Hel1Aa in a Lepdidoptera insect, Pieris rapae, was derived from Cves_Hel1Aa in a parasitoid wasp, Cotesia vestalis, suggested the role of nonregular host-parasite interactions in HT of Helitrons. Conclusions:We proposed a modified classification criteria of Helitrons based on the important role of the 5'-end of Helitrons in transposition, and provided evidence for stepwise sequence acquisition and recurrent HT of a novel Helitron family. Our findings of the nonregular host-parasite interactions may be more conducive to the HT of transposons.
Project description:Helitrons constitute a superfamily of DNA transposons that were discovered in silico and are widespread in most eukaryotic genomes. They are postulated to mobilize through a "rolling-circle" mechanism, but the experimental evidence of their transposition has been described only recently. Here, we present the inheritance patterns of HELPO1 and HELPO2 helitron families in meiotically derived progeny of the basidiomycete Pleurotus ostreatus. We found distorted segregation patterns of HELPO2 helitrons that led to a strong under-representation of these elements in the progeny. Further investigation of HELPO2 flanking sites showed that gene conversion may contribute to the elimination of such repetitive elements in meiosis, favouring the presence of HELPO2 vacant loci. In addition, the analysis of HELPO2 content in a reconstructed pedigree of subclones maintained under different culture conditions revealed an event of helitron somatic transposition. Additional analyses of genome and transcriptome data indicated that P. ostreatus carries active RNAi machinery that could be involved in the control of transposable element proliferation. Our results provide the first evidence of helitron mobilization in the fungal kingdom and highlight the interaction between genome defence mechanisms and invasive DNA.
Project description:DNA transposons helitrons are mobile genetic elements responsible for major movements of the genetic material within and across different genomes. This ability makes helitrons suitable candidate elements for the development of new approaches of multilocus genotyping of live-stock animals, along with the well-known microsatellite loci.We aimed to estimate the informativeness of helitron and microsatellite markers in assessing the consolidation and the "gene pool" standards of two commercial dairy cattle breeds (Ayrshire breed and holsteinized Black-and-White cattle) and one local breed of Kalmyk cattle, and to reveal any inter-breed difference in the organization of genomic regions flanked by helitrons in the studied cattle breeds.We used the combination of two highly-polymorphic genomic elements - helitrons and trinu-cleotide microsatellites (AGC)6G and (GAG)6C, respectively - for genome scanning of the sampled groups of cattle. Also, we pyrosequenced the genomic regions flanked by the inverted repeats of 3'-end of Heligloria family of helitron fragments.Generally, the both combinations of markers generated polymorphic spectra, based on which certain interbreed differentiation could be observed. The analysis of the identified interspersed repeats suggests that in factory and local cattle the genomic regions flanked by helitron fragments are shaped differently and contain different superfamilies of transposable elements, especially retrotransposons.Despite the well-known fact of retrotransposon-dependent microsatellite expansion, our data suggest that, in the cattle genome, the DNA transposons and microsatellites can also be found in close neighbourhood, and that helitrons and retrotransposons may form domains of increased variability - targets for factors of artificial selection.
Project description:Rolling-circle (RC) transposons, or Helitrons, are a newly recognized group of eukaryotic transposable elements abundant in the genomes of plants, invertebrates, and zebrafish. We provide evidence for the colonization of a mammalian genome by Helitrons, which has not been reported previously. We identified and characterized two families of Helitrons in the little brown bat Myotis lucifugus. The consensus sequence for the first family, HeliBat1, displays the hallmarks of an autonomous Helitron, including coding capacity for an approximately 1,500-aa protein with an RC replication motif and a region related to the SF1 superfamily of DNA helicases. The HeliBatN1 family is a nonautonomous Helitron family that is only distantly related to HeliBat1. The two HeliBat families have attained high copy numbers (approximately 15,000 and > 100,000 copies, respectively) and make up at least approximately 3% of the M. lucifugus genome. Sequence divergence and cross-species analyses indicate that both HeliBat families have amplified within the last approximately 30-36 million years and are restricted to the lineage of vesper bats. We could not detect the presence of Helitrons in any other order of placental mammals, despite the broad representation of these taxa in the databases. We describe an instance of HeliBat-mediated transduction of a host gene fragment that was subsequently dispersed in approximately 1,000 copies throughout the M. lucifugus genome. Given the demonstrated propensity of RC transposons to mediate the duplication and shuffling of host genes in bacteria and maize, it is tempting to speculate that the massive amplification of Helitrons in vesper bats has influenced the evolutionary trajectory of these mammals.
Project description:Helitrons are eukaryotic DNA transposons that have profoundly affected genome variability via capture and mobilization of host genomic sequences. Defining their mode of action is therefore important for understanding how genome landscapes evolve. Sequence similarities with certain prokaryotic mobile elements suggest a "rolling circle" mode of transposition, involving only a single transposon strand. Using the reconstituted Helraiser transposon to study Helitron transposition in cells and in vitro, we show that the donor site must be double-stranded and that single-stranded donors will not suffice. Nevertheless, replication and integration assays demonstrate the use of only one of the transposon donor strands. Furthermore, repeated reuse of Helraiser donor sites occurs following DNA synthesis. In cells, circular double-stranded intermediates that serve as transposon donors are generated and replicated by Helraiser transposase. Cell-free experiments demonstrate strand-specific cleavage and strand transfer, supporting observations made in cells.
Project description:Maize Helitron transposons are intriguing because of their notable ability to capture gene fragments and move them around the genome. To document more extensively their variability and their contribution to the remarkable genome structure variation of present-day maize, we have analyzed their composition, copy number, timing of insertion, and chromosomal distribution. First, we searched 2.4 Gb of sequences generated by the Maize Genome Sequencing Project with our HelitronFinder program. We identified 2,791 putative nonautonomous Helitrons and manually curated a subset of 272. The predicted Helitrons measure 11.9 kb on average and carry from zero to nine gene fragments, captured from 376 different genes. Although the diversity of Helitron gene fragments in maize is greater than in other species, more than one-third of annotated Helitrons carry fragments derived from just one of two genes. Most members in these two subfamilies inserted in the genome less than one million years ago. Second, we conducted a BLASTN search of the maize sequence database with queries from two previously described agenic Helitrons not detected by HelitronFinder. Two large subfamilies of Helitrons or Helitron-related transposons were identified. One subfamily, termed Cornucopious, consists of thousands of copies of an approximately 1.0-kb agenic Helitron that may be the most abundant transposon in maize. The second subfamily consists of >150 copies of a transposon-like sequence, termed Heltir, that has terminal inverted repeats resembling Helitron 3' termini. Nonautonomous Helitrons make up at least 2% of the maize genome and most of those tested show +/- polymorphisms among modern inbred lines.