Intense transpositional activity of insertion sequences in an ancient obligate endosymbiont

R. Cordaux 1 S. Pichon 1 A. Ling 1 P. Perez 1 C. Delaunay 1 F. Vavre 2 D. Bouchon 1 P. Greve 1
2 Génétique et évolution des interactions hôtes-parasites
GINSENG - Département génétique, interactions et évolution des génomes [LBBE]
Abstract : The streamlined genomes of ancient obligate endosymbionts generally lack transposable elements, such as insertion sequences (IS). Yet, the genome of Wolbachia, one of the most abundant bacterial endosymbionts on Earth, is littered with IS. Such a paradox raises the question as to why there are so many ISs in the genome of this ancient endosymbiont. To address this question, we investigated IS transpositional activity in the unculturable Wolbachia by tracking the evolutionary dynamics and history of ISWpi1 elements. We show that 1) ISWpi1 is widespread in Wolbachia, being present in at least 55% of the 40 sampled strains, 2) ISWpi1 copies exhibit virtually identical nucleotide sequences both within and among Wolbachia genomes and possess an intact transposase gene, 3) individual ISWpi1 copies are differentially inserted among Wolbachia genomes, and 4) ISWpi1 occurs at variable copy numbers among Wolbachia genomes. Collectively, our results provide compelling evidence for intense ISWpi1 transpositional activity and frequent ISWpi1 horizontal transmission among strains during recent Wolbachia evolution. Thus, the genomes of ancient obligate endosymbionts can carry high loads of functional and transpositionally active transposable elements. Our results also indicate that Wolbachia genomes have experienced multiple and temporally distinct ISWpi1 invasions during their evolutionary history. Such recurrent exposition to new IS invasions may explain, at least partly, the unusually high density of transposable elements found in the genomes of Wolbachia endosymbionts.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 9, 2008 - 3:49:51 PM
Last modification on : Monday, February 10, 2020 - 4:36:55 PM

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R. Cordaux, S. Pichon, A. Ling, P. Perez, C. Delaunay, et al.. Intense transpositional activity of insertion sequences in an ancient obligate endosymbiont. Molecular Biology and Evolution, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2008, 25 (9), pp.1889-1896. ⟨10.1093/molbev/msn134⟩. ⟨hal-00319882⟩

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