Phylogenetic analysis of transposable elements (TEs) allows us to define the relationships between the domains or gene(s) that compose them. Moreover, modules of a few amino-acids can be detected within gag, pol, envgenes or within the integrase domain of retrotransposons and transposase of DNA elements. The combination of these observations clearly shows that the evolutionary history of TEs is the outcome of the acquisition and loss of modules with differing origins and histories. This raises the question of the origin of TEs: are they derived from viruses? Do the basic building bricks come from the prokaryotes, and can they be assembled in the eukaryotes? Are the TEs found in prokaryotes the result of the disintegration of complex elements such as retroelements? Do they evolve from the simplest to the more complex, or are they opportunistic sequences evolving by acquiring and/or losing modules which may be either important or superfluous to their fitness (i.e., their ability to transpose). These are some of the questions that are addressed and discussed in the light of the comparative structures of TEs.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2004
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