Rapid amplification of a retrotransposon subfamily is evolving the mouse genome.

Department of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.
Nature Genetics (Impact Factor: 29.65). 12/1998; 20(3):288-90. DOI: 10.1038/3104
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Retrotransposition affects genome structure by increasing repetition and producing insertional mutations. Dispersion of the retrotransposon L1 throughout mammalian genomes suggests that L1 activity might be an important evolutionary force. Here we report that L1 retrotransposition contributes to rapid genome evolution in the mouse, because a number of L1 sequences from the T(F) subfamily are retrotransposition competent. We show that the T(F) subfamily is large, young and expanding, containing approximately 4,800 full-length members in strain 129. Eleven randomly isolated, full-length T(F) elements averaged 99.8% sequence identity to each other, and seven of these retrotransposed in cultured cells. Thus, we estimate that the mouse genome contains approximately 3,000 active T(F) elements, 75 times the estimated number of active human L1s. Moreover, as T(F) elements are polymorphic among closely related mice, they have retrotransposed recently, implying rapid amplification of the subfamily to yield genomes with different patterns of interspersed repetition. Our data show that mice and humans differ considerably in the number of active L1s, and probably differ in the contribution of retrotransposition to ongoing sequence evolution.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The viability of any species requires that the genome is kept stable as it is transmitted from generation to generation by the germ cells. One of the challenges to transgenerational genome stability is the potential mutagenic activity of transposable genetic elements, particularly retrotransposons. There are many different types of retrotransposon in mammalian genomes, and these target different points in germline development to amplify and integrate into new genomic locations. Germ cells, and their pluripotent developmental precursors, have evolved a variety of genome defence mechanisms that suppress retrotransposon activity and maintain genome stability across the generations. Here, we review recent advances in understanding how retrotransposon activity is suppressed in the mammalian germline, how genes involved in germline genome defence mechanisms are regulated, and the consequences of mutating these genome defence genes for the developing germline.
    Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS 09/2013; · 5.86 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Transposable elements (TEs) occupy a large fraction of metazoan genomes and pose a constant threat to genomic integrity. This threat is particularly critical in germ cells, as changes in the genome that are induced by TEs will be transmitted to the next generation. Small noncoding piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) recognize and silence a diverse set of TEs in germ cells. In mice, piRNA-guided transposon repression correlates with establishment of CpG DNA methylation on their sequences, yet the mechanism and the spectrum of genomic targets of piRNA silencing are unknown. Here we show that in addition to DNA methylation, the piRNA pathway is required to maintain a high level of the repressive H3K9me3 histone modification on long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) in germ cells. piRNA-dependent chromatin repression targets exclusively full-length elements of actively transposing LINE families, demonstrating the remarkable ability of the piRNA pathway to recognize active elements among the large number of genomic transposon fragments.
    Genes & Development 06/2014; · 12.64 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Between 6 and 30% of human and mouse transcripts are initiated from transposable elements. However, the promoters driving such transcriptional activity are mostly unknown. We experimentally characterized an antisense (AS) promoter in mouse L1 retrotransposons for the first time, oriented antiparallel to the coding strand of L1 open reading frame-1. We found that AS transcription is mediated by RNA polymerase II. Rapid amplification of cDNA ends cloning mapped transcription start sites adjacent to the AS promoter. We identified >100 novel fusion transcripts, of which many were conserved across divergent mouse lineages, suggesting conservation of potential functions. To evaluate whether AS L1 transcription could regulate L1 retrotransposition, we replaced portions of native open reading frame-1 in donor elements by synonymously recoded sequences. The resulting L1 elements lacked AS promoter activity and retrotransposed more frequently than endogenous L1s. Overexpression of AS L1 transcripts also reduced L1 retrotransposition. This suppression of retrotransposition was largely independent of Dicer. Our experiments shed new light on how AS fusion transcripts are initiated from endogenous L1 elements across the mouse genome. Such AS transcription can contribute substantially both to natural transcriptional variation and to endogenous regulation of L1 retrotransposition.
    Nucleic Acids Research 02/2014; · 8.81 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
Jun 1, 2014