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Open Access Research article

PwRn1, a novel Ty3/gypsy-like retrotransposon of Paragonimus westermani: molecular characters and its differentially preserved mobile potential according to host chromosomal polyploidy

Young-An Bae1, Jong-Sook Ahn2, Seon-Hee Kim1, Mun-Gan Rhyu2, Yoon Kong1 and Seung-Yull Cho1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Molecular Parasitology and Samsung Biomedical Research Institute, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Suwon, Gyeonggi-do 440-746, Korea

2 Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, Catholic University of Korea, Seoul 137-701, Korea

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:482  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-482

Published: 14 October 2008

Abstract

Background

Retrotransposons have been known to involve in the remodeling and evolution of host genome. These reverse transcribing elements, which show a complex evolutionary pathway with diverse intermediate forms, have been comprehensively analyzed from a wide range of host genomes, while the information remains limited to only a few species in the phylum Platyhelminthes.

Results

A LTR retrotransposon and its homologs with a strong phylogenetic affinity toward CsRn1 of Clonorchis sinensis were isolated from a trematode parasite Paragonimus westermani via a degenerate PCR method and from an insect species Anopheles gambiae by in silico analysis of the whole mosquito genome, respectively. These elements, designated PwRn1 and AgCR-1 AgCR-14 conserved unique features including a t-RNATrp primer binding site and the unusual CHCC signature of Gag proteins. Their flanking LTRs displayed >97% nucleotide identities and thus, these elements were likely to have expanded recently in the trematode and insect genomes. They evolved heterogeneous expression strategies: a single fused ORF, two separate ORFs with an identical reading frame and two ORFs overlapped by -1 frameshifting. Phylogenetic analyses suggested that the elements with the separate ORFs had evolved from an ancestral form(s) with the overlapped ORFs. The mobile potential of PwRn1 was likely to be maintained differentially in association with the karyotype of host genomes, as was examined by the presence/absence of intergenomic polymorphism and mRNA transcripts.

Conclusion

Our results on the structural diversity of CsRn1-like elements can provide a molecular tool to dissect a more detailed evolutionary episode of LTR retrotransposons. The PwRn1-associated genomic polymorphism, which is substantial in diploids, will also be informative in addressing genomic diversification following inter-/intra-specific hybridization in P. westermani populations.