The Role of Interelement Selection in Saccharomyces cerevisiae Ty Element Evolution
Retrotransposons are mobile genetic elements that are ubiquitous components of eukaryotic genomes. The evolutionary success of retrotransposons is explained by their ability to replicate faster than the host genomes in which they reside. Elements with higher rates of genomic replication possess a selective advantage over less active elements. Retrotransposon populations, therefore, are shaped largely by selective forces acting at the genomic level between elements. To evaluate rigorously the effects of selective forces acting on retrotransposons, detailed information on the patterns of molecular variation within and between retrotransposon families is needed. The sequencing of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome, which includes the entire genomic complement of yeast retrotransposons, provides an unprecedented opportunity to access and analyze such data. In this study, we analyzed in detail the patterns of nucleotide variation within the open reading frames of two parental (Ty1 and Ty2) and one hybrid (Ty1/2) family of yeast retrotransposons. The pattern and distribution of nucleotide changes on the phylogenetic reconstructions of the three families of Ty elements reveal evidence of negative selection on both internal and external branches of the Ty phylogenies. These results indicate that most, if not all, Ty elements examined represent active or recently active retrotransposon lineages. We discuss the relevance of these findings with respect to the coevolutionary dynamic operating between genomic element populations and the host organisms in which they reside.
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