Genomic analysis of the retroviral elements of caenorhabditis elegans and drosophila melanogaster
Bowen, Nathan John
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Retrotransposons are the most abundant and widespread class of eukaryotic transposable elements (TEs). The recent genome sequencing of Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster has provided an unprecedented opportunity to analyze the evolutionary relationships among the entire complement of retrotransposons within multicellular eukaryotic organisms. Here, I report the results of an analysis of retroviral-like long terminal repeat retrotransposons in C. elegans and D. melanogaster that indicate this class of elements may be even more abundant and divergent than previously expected. The unexpected presence, in C. elegans, of an element displaying a number of characteristics previously thought to be unique to vertebrate retroviruses suggests an ancient lineage for this important class of infectious agents. Likewise, the abundance and sequence identity of many retroviral elements within the D. melanogaster genome indicates that the majority of germ line transpositions have occurred in this species within the last 100,000 yrs. These results emphasize the dynamic nature of these elements and underscore their potential ability to influence the evolution of the host genomes in which they reside.