Copia Retrotransposon in the Zaprionus Genus: Another Case of Transposable Element Sharing with the Drosophila melanogaster Subgroup

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Copia is a retrotransposon that appears to be distributed widely among the Drosophilidae subfamily. Evolutionary analyses of regulatory regions have indicated that the Copia retrotransposon evolved through both positive and purifying selection, and that horizontal transfer (HT) could also explain its patchy distribution of the among the subfamilies of the melanogaster subgroup. Additionally, Copia elements could also have transferred between melanogaster subgroup and other species of Drosophilidae-D. willistoni and Z. tuberculatus. In this study, we surveyed seven species of the Zaprionus genus by sequencing the LTR-ULR and reverse transcriptase regions, and by using RT-PCR in order to understand the distribution and evolutionary history of Copia in the Zaprionus genus. The Copia element was detected, and was transcriptionally active, in all species investigated. Structural and selection analysis revealed Zaprionus elements to be closely related to the most ancient subfamily of the melanogaster subgroup, and they seem to be evolving mainly under relaxed purifying selection. Taken together, these results allowed us to classify the Zaprionus sequences as a new subfamily-ZapCopia, a member of the Copia retrotransposon family of the melanogaster subgroup. These findings indicate that the Copia retrotransposon is an ancient component of the genomes of the Zaprionus species and broaden our understanding of the diversity of retrotransposons in the Zaprionus genus.




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Journal of Molecular Evolution. New York: Springer, v. 72, n. 3, p. 326-338, 2011.

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