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Int J Parasitol. 2010 May;40(6):743-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2009.11.013. Epub 2009 Dec 16.

Bursts of transposition from non-long terminal repeat retrotransposon families of the RTE clade in Schistosoma mansoni.

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Departamento de Bioquímica, Instituto de Química, Universidade de São Paulo, 05508-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil.


The genus Schistosoma is composed of blood flukes that infect vertebrates, from which three species are major causative agents of human schistosomiasis, a tropical disease that affects more than 200 million people. Current models of the recent evolution of Schistosoma indicate multiple events of migration and speciation from an Asian ancestral species. Transposable elements are important drivers of genome evolution and have been hypothesised to have an important role in speciation. In this work, we describe a comprehensive inventory of Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosoma japonicum retrotransposons, based on their recently published genomic data. We find a considerable difference in retrotransposon representation between the two species (22% and 13%, respectively). A large part of this difference can be attributed to higher representation of two previously described families of S. mansoni retrotransposons (SR2 and Perere-3/SR3), compared with the representation of their closest relative families in S. japonicum. A more detailed analysis suggests that these two S. mansoni families were the subject of recent bursts of transposition that were not paralleled by their S. japonicum counterparts. We hypothesise that these bursts could be a consequence of the evolutionary pressure resulting from migration of Schistosoma from Asia to Africa and their establishment in this new environment, helping both speciation and adaptation.

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