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Anuran genomes have a large number and diversity of transposable elements, but are little explored, mainly in relation to their molecular structure and evolutionary dynamics. Here, we investigated the retrotransposons containing tyrosine recombinase (YR) (order DIRS) in the genome of Xenopus tropicalis and Xenopus laevis. These anurans show 2n = 20 and the 2n = 36 karyotypes, respectively. They diverged about 48 million years ago (mya) and X. laevis had an allotetraploid origin (around 17-18 mya). Our investigation is based on the analysis of the molecular structure and the phylogenetic relationships of 95 DIRS families of Xenopus belonging to DIRS-like and Ngaro-like superfamilies. We were able to identify molecular signatures in the 5' and 3' noncoding terminal regions, preserved open reading frames, and conserved domains that are specific to distinguish each superfamily. We recognize two ancient amplification waves of DIRS-like elements that occurred in the ancestor of both species and a higher density of the old/degenerate copies detected in both subgenomes of X. laevis. More recent amplification waves are seen in X. tropicalis (less than 3.2 mya) and X. laevis (around 10 mya) corroborating with transcriptional activity evidence. All DIRS-like families were found in both X. laevis subgenomes, while a few were most represented in the L subgenome. Ngaro-like elements presented less diversity and quantity in X. tropicalis and X. laevis genomes, although potentially active copies were found in both species and this is consistent with a recent amplification wave seen in the evolutionary landscape. Our findings highlight a differential diversity-level and evolutionary dynamics of the YR retrotransposons in X. tropicalis and X. laevis species expanding our comprehension of the behavior of these elements in both genomes during the diversification process. © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Genetics Society of America.


Camilla Borges Gazolla, Adriana Ludwig, Joana de Moura Gama, Daniel Pacheco Bruschi. Evolutionary dynamics of DIRS-like and Ngaro-like retrotransposons in Xenopus laevis and Xenopus tropicalis genomes. G3 (Bethesda, Md.). 2022 Feb 04;12(2)

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PMID: 34792579

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