Article

Widespread Lateral Gene Transfer from Intracellular Bacteria to Multicellular Eukaryotes

Institute for Genomic Research, J. Craig Venter Institute, 9712 Medical Center Drive, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.48). 10/2007; 317(5845):1753-6. DOI: 10.1126/science.1142490
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although common among bacteria, lateral gene transfer—the movement of genes between distantly related organisms—is thought
to occur only rarely between bacteria and multicellular eukaryotes. However, the presence of endosymbionts, such as Wolbachia pipientis, within some eukaryotic germlines may facilitate bacterial gene transfers to eukaryotic host genomes. We therefore examined
host genomes for evidence of gene transfer events from Wolbachia bacteria to their hosts. We found and confirmed transfers into the genomes of four insect and four nematode species that
range from nearly the entire Wolbachia genome (>1 megabase) to short (<500 base pairs) insertions. Potential Wolbachia-to-host transfers were also detected computationally in three additional sequenced insect genomes. We also show that some
of these inserted Wolbachia genes are transcribed within eukaryotic cells lacking endosymbionts. Therefore, heritable lateral gene transfer occurs into
eukaryotic hosts from their prokaryote symbionts, potentially providing a mechanism for acquisition of new genes and functions.

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    • "HGT is rampant among prokaryotes and phages and is an important mechanism for acquisition of new genes and functions (Popa and Dagan, 2011), including the shuttling of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance between bacteria (Clardy et al., 2009). Instances of interdomain horizontal transfer of diverse genes between two domains of life or between viruses and their hosts are also increasingly documented (Nelson et al., 1999; Husnik et al., 2013; Dunning Hotopp et al., 2007; Wu et al., 2013; Gladyshev et al., 2008; Bratke and McLysaght, 2008; Danchin et al., 2010). While a minority of these transfers have been functionally investigated, the biological activity, selective advantages, and ecological contexts of many interdomain HGT events remain poorly characterized (Dunning Hotopp 2011, Keeling and Palmer, 2008). "
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    • "This is mostly due to the fact that LGT has to occur, at least in sexually reproducing animals, in the germ cells to be transmitted to the next generation and be stabilized in the population (Robinson et al., 2013). However, recently these events are identified more frequently, especially in invertebrates (Boto, 2012), some of which are tightly associated with the germline-transmitted bacterial endosymbiont Wolbachia (Dunning Hotopp et al., 2007). By modifying an organisms DNA, LGT provides a source of selectable genetic variation over time in addition to base pair mutations, recombination, insertions, deletions, etc., and may therefore act as an effective driver of co-evolution, especially on longer evolutionary time scales. "
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    • "Notably, both eukaryotic sequences are present in nuclear genomes, whereas their mitochondria encode a typical mitochondrial cyt b (YP_203382 and YP_001031207, respectively ). These cases would indicate interdomain horizontal gene transfer between bacteria and metazoa (Dunning Hotopp et al. 2007 "
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