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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 Sep 1;95(18):10704-9.

Unusual horizontal transfer of a long interspersed nuclear element between distant vertebrate classes.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Jozef Stefan Institute, P.O.B. 3000, 1001 Ljubljana, Slovenia.


We have shown previously by Southern blot analysis that Bov-B long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) are present in different Viperidae snake species. To address the question as to whether Bov-B LINEs really have been transmitted horizontally between vertebrate classes, the analysis has been extended to a larger number of vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant species. In this paper, the evolutionary origin of Bov-B LINEs is shown unequivocally to be in Squamata. The previously proposed horizontal transfer of Bov-B LINEs in vertebrates has been confirmed by their discontinuous phylogenetic distribution in Squamata (Serpentes and two lizard infra-orders) as well as in Ruminantia, by the high level of nucleotide identity, and by their phylogenetic relationships. The horizontal transfer of Bov-B LINEs from Squamata to the ancestor of Ruminantia is evident from the genetic distances and discontinuous phylogenetic distribution. The ancestor of Colubroidea snakes is a possible donor of Bov-B LINEs to Ruminantia. The timing of horizontal transfer has been estimated from the distribution of Bov-B LINEs in Ruminantia and the fossil data of Ruminantia to be 40-50 My ago. The phylogenetic relationships of Bov-B LINEs from the various Squamata species agrees with that of the species phylogeny, suggesting that Bov-B LINEs have been maintained stably by vertical transmission since the origin of Squamata in the Mesozoic era.

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