An intact retroviral gene conserved in spiny-rayed fishes for over 100 My

Henzy, J. E., Gifford, R. J. , Kenaley, C. P. and Johnson, W. E. (2017) An intact retroviral gene conserved in spiny-rayed fishes for over 100 My. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 34(3), pp. 634-639. (doi: 10.1093/molbev/msw262) (PMID:28039384)

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We have identified a retroviral envelope gene with a complete, intact open reading frame (ORF) in 20 species of spiny-rayed fishes (Acanthomorpha). The taxonomic distribution of the gene, “percomORF”, indicates insertion into the ancestral lineage >110 Ma, making it the oldest known conserved gene of viral origin in a vertebrate genome. Underscoring its ancient provenence, percomORF exists as an isolated ORF within the intron of a widely conserved host gene, with no discernible proviral sequence nearby. Despite its remarkable age, percomORF retains canonical features of a retroviral glycoprotein, and tests for selection strongly suggest cooption for a host function. Retroviral envelope genes have been coopted for a role in placentogenesis by numerous lineages of mammals, including eutherians and marsupials, representing a variety of placental structures. Therefore percomORF’s presence within the group Percomorpha—unique among spiny-finned fishes in having evolved placentation and live birth—is especially intriguing.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported in part by National Institutes of Health grant AI083118 (W.E.J.) and by start-up funds provided by Boston College.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gifford, Dr Robert
Authors: Henzy, J. E., Gifford, R. J., Kenaley, C. P., and Johnson, W. E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:Molecular Biology and Evolution
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1537-1719
Published Online:26 December 2016

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