Send to

Choose Destination
Gene. 2011 Mar 15;474(1-2):52-8. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2010.12.007. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

The limited distribution of Helitrons to vesper bats supports horizontal transfer.

Author information

Department of Biology, University of Texas at Arlington, 501 S. Nedderman Drive. Arlington, TX 76019, USA.


Transposable elements (TEs) have the unique ability to move and replicate within the genome and therefore engender dramatic changes to genome architecture. Among different types of TEs, rolling-circle transposons (Helitrons) are well known for their ability to capture and amplify host gene fragments. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that Helitrons constitute ~3% of the Myotis lucifugus, (little brown bat) genome, while no Helitrons were found in any of the other 44+ sequenced mammalian genomes. Recently horizontal transfer has been implicated for some of the M. lucifugus Helitrons, in part explaining this disparate distribution among mammals. The purpose of this work is to determine both the distribution of Helitrons among bats and to estimate the number of independent invasions. We employed a combination of in silico, PCR and hybridization based techniques to identify Helitrons from diverse bat species belonging to ten different families. This work reveals that Helitrons invaded the vesper bat lineage, at least once. Indeed, Helitrons were not identified in the sister taxa 'Miniopterus', which suggests that the amplification of Helibat occurred (30-36 mya) only in the vesper bat lineage. The estimated age of amplification of the Helibats and the rapid radiation of vesper bats are roughly coincidental and suggest that the invasion and amplification of these elements might have influenced their evolutionary trajectory potentially contributing to phenotypic and genotypic diversity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center