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Transposable elements (TEs) are ubiquitous genomic parasites that have prompted the evolution of genome defense systems that restrict their activity. Repeat-induced point mutation (RIP) is a homology-dependent genome defense that introduces C-to-T transition mutations in duplicated DNA sequences and is thought to control the proliferation of selfish repetitive DNA. Here, we determine the taxonomic distribution of hypermutation patterns indicative of RIP among basidiomycetes. We quantify C-to-T transition mutations in particular di- and trinucleotide target sites for TE-like sequences from nine fungal genomes. We find evidence of RIP-like patterns of hypermutation at TpCpG trinucleotide sites in repetitive sequences from all species of the Pucciniomycotina subphylum of the Basidiomycota, Microbotryum lychnidis-dioicae, Puccinia graminis, Melampsora laricis-populina, and Rhodotorula graminis. In contrast, we do not find evidence for RIP-like hypermutation in four species of the Agaricomycotina and Ustilaginomycotina subphyla of the Basidiomycota. Our results suggest that a RIP-like process and the specific nucleotide context for mutations are conserved within the Pucciniomycotina subphylum. These findings imply that coevolutionary interactions between TEs and a hypermutating genome defense are stable over long evolutionary timescales.


Felix Horns, Elsa Petit, Roxana Yockteng, Michael E Hood. Patterns of repeat-induced point mutation in transposable elements of basidiomycete fungi. Genome biology and evolution. 2012;4(3):240-7

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PMID: 22250128

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