Characterization and Evolution of Germ1, an Element that Undergoes Diminution in Lampreys (Cyclostomata: Petromyzontidae)
The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) undergoes substantial genomic alterations during embryogenesis in which specific sequences are deleted from the genome of somatic cells yet retained in cells of the germ line. One element that undergoes diminution in P. marinus is Germ1, which consists of a somatically rare (SR) region and a fragment of 28S rDNA. Although the SR-region has been used as a marker for genomic alterations in lampreys, the evolutionary significance of its diminution is unknown. We examined the Germ1 element in five additional species of lamprey to better understand its evolutionary significance. Each representative species contained sequences similar enough to the Germ1 element of P. marinus to be detected via PCR and Southern hybridizations, although the SR-regions of Lampetra aepyptera and Lethenteron appendix are quite divergent from the homologous sequences of Petromyzon and three species of Ichthyomyzon. Lamprey Germ1 sequences have a number of features characteristic of the R2 retrotransposon, a mobile element that specifically targets 28S rDNA. Phylogenetic analyses of the SR-regions revealed patterns generally consistent with relationships among the species included in our study, although the 28S-fragments of each species/genus were most closely related to its own functional rDNA, suggesting that the two components of Germ1 were assembled independently in each lineage. Southern hybridizations showed evidence of genomic alterations involving Germ1 in each species. Our results suggest that Germ1 is a R2 retroelement that occurs in the genome of P. marinus and other petromyzontid lampreys, and that its diminution is incidental to the reduction in rDNA copies during embryogenesis.
KeywordsGenome evolution Genome rearrangement Retroelement rDNA
We would like to thank our friends and colleagues who either contributed specimens (T. Buchinger and S. Miehls), assisted with collections (G. Adams), or provided locality information from their personal collection notes (D. Eisenhour, B. Fisher, and G. Weddle). We also thank K. Delany for many insightful discussions. This work was partially funded by an internal Grant to RMS and resources supplied by the Department of Biology, University of Southern Indiana.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare they have no conflict of interest to disclose.
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