A hAT-related family of interspersed repetitive elements in genomes of western Palaearctic water frogs
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A family of interspersed repetitive elements, RlBamHI, with sequence similarity to the transposase of hAT DNA transposons, occurs in genomes of eight western Palaearctic water frog taxa and the brown frog Rana dalmatina, but was not detected in Xenopus laevis or Salamandra salamandra. RlBamHI elements are not tandemly arrayed, are dispersed across all chromosomes although not uniformly distributed, and based on dot-blot hybridizations may constitute as much as approximately 10% of the genomes of Rana lessonae, Rana ridibunda, and Rana perezi, but only approximately 1% of that of Rana saharica. Eleven nucleotide sequences of a 572 bp fragment from the nine taxa are very similar (pairwise differences 0.4-8.1% for nucleotides, 0.6-18.2% for amino acids), and all share a single open reading frame across the whole RlBamHI fragment. The reading frame is maintained despite several indels, most of which are multiples of 3 bp, but a pair of which in one species alters and, after 13 codons, restores the reading frame. It is possible that the reading frame is selectively maintained, suggesting recent or even present transposition capacity. The amino acid sequences encoded by RlBamHI elements, but not the nucleotide sequences themselves, reveal the similarity of RlBamHI to members of the widespread hAT superfamily of DNA transposons. Amino acid sequence comparisons permitted no convincing phylogenetic placement of RlBamHI among 32 representative hAT transposons across organisms, probably reflecting both the genetic divergence of RlBamHI elements and the paucity of aligned residues available for analysis. Among DNA transposons, a genomic fraction of 10% is extraordinarily high. Phylogenetic analyses of Rana RlBamHI sequences match poorly with independent genetic and molecular phylogenies; the elements compared probably are not orthologous, which renders their sequences inadequate for reconstructing organismal phylogenetic histories.