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Genomic and phylogenetic evidence of VIPER retrotransposon domestication in trypanosomatids


Transposable elements are important residents of eukaryotic genomes and eventually the host can domesticate them to serve cellular functions. We reported here a possible domestication event of the vestigial interposed retroelement (VIPER) in trypanosomatids. We found a large gene in a syntenic location in Leishmania braziliensis, L. panamensis, Leptomanas pyrrhocoris, and Crithidia fasciculata whose products share similarity in the C-terminal portion with the third protein of VIPER. No remnants of other VIPER regions surrounding the gene sequence were found. We hypothesise that the domestication event occurred more than 50 mya and the conservation of this gene suggests it might perform some function in the host species.

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