Int J Biol Sci 2006; 2(2):54-60. doi:10.7150/ijbs.2.54 This issue
1. Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK.
2. School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AJ, UK.
* These authors contributed equally to this work.
As the sister group to vertebrates, amphioxus is consistently used as a model of genome evolution for understanding the invertebrate/vertebrate transition. The amphioxus genome has not undergone massive duplications like those in the vertebrates or disruptive rearrangements like in the genome of Ciona, a urochordate, making it an ideal evolutionary model. Transposable elements have been linked to many genomic evolutionary changes including increased genome size, modified gene expression, massive gene rearrangements, and possibly intron evolution. Despite their importance in genome evolution, few previous examples of transposable elements have been identified in amphioxus. We report five novel Miniature Inverted-repeat Transposable Elements (MITEs) identified by an analysis of amphioxus DNA sequence, which we have named LanceleTn-1, LanceleTn-2, LanceleTn-3a, LanceleTn-3b and LanceleTn-4. Several of the LanceleTn elements were identified in the amphioxus ParaHox cluster, and we suggest these have had important implications for the evolution of this highly conserved gene cluster. The estimated high copy numbers of these elements implies that MITEs are probably the most abundant type of mobile element in amphioxus, and are thus likely to have been of fundamental importance in shaping the evolution of the amphioxus genome.
Keywords: Cephalochordate, Miniature Inverted-repeat Transposable Elements (MITEs), Genome evolution, ParaHox