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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Oct 29;99(22):14280-5. Epub 2002 Oct 17.

Genome fragment of Wolbachia endosymbiont transferred to X chromosome of host insect.

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Department of Systems Science (Biology), and Department of Biological Science at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Meguro, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan.


The adzuki bean beetle, Callosobruchus chinensis, is triple-infected with distinct lineages of Wolbachia endosymbiont, wBruCon, wBruOri, and wBruAus, which were identified by their wsp (Wolbachia surface protein) gene sequences. Whereas wBruCon and wBruOri caused cytoplasmic incompatibility of the host insect, wBruAus did not. Although wBruCon and wBruOri were easily eliminated by antibiotic treatments, wBruAus persisted over five treated generations and could not be eliminated. The inheritance pattern of wBruAus was, surprisingly, explained by sex-linked inheritance in male-heterozygotic organisms, which agreed with the karyotype of C. chinensis (2n = 20, XY). Quantitative PCR analysis demonstrated that females contain around twice as much wsp titer as males, which is concordant with an X chromosome linkage. Specific PCR and Southern blot analyses indicated that the wBruAus-bearing strain of C. chinensis contains only a fraction of the Wolbachia gene repertoire. Several genome fragments of wBruAus were isolated using an inverse PCR technique. The fragments exhibited a bacterial genome structure containing a number of ORFs typical of the alpha-proteobacteria, although some of the ORFs contained disruptive mutations. In the flanking region of ftsZ gene, a non-long terminal repeat (non-LTR) retrotransposon sequence, which is typical of insects but not found from bacteria, was present. These results strongly suggest that wBruAus has no microbial entity but is a genome fragment of Wolbachia endosymbiont transferred to the X chromosome of the host insect.

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