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Evidence for the recent horizontal transfer of long terminal repeat retrotransposon

The National Academy of Sciences
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  • Biological Sciences


The evolutionary dynamics existing between transposable elements (TEs) and their host genomes have been likened to an “arms race.” The selfish drive of TEs to replicate, in turn, elicits the evolution of host-mediated regulatory mechanisms aimed at repressing transpositional activity. It has been postulated that horizontal (cross-species) transfer may be one effective strategy by which TEs and other selfish genes can escape host-mediated silencing mechanisms over evolutionary time; however, to date, the most definitive evidence that TEs horizontally transfer between species has been limited to class II or DNA-type elements. Evidence that the more numerous and widely distributed retroelements may also be horizontally transferred between species has been more ambiguous. In this paper, we report definitive evidence for a recent horizontal transfer of the copia long terminal repeat retrotransposon between Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila willistoni.

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