Expression of Transposable Elements in Neural Tissues during Xenopus Development
by Fernando Faunes, Natalia Sanchez, Mauricio Moreno, Gonzalo H. Olivares, Dasfne Lee-Liu, Leonardo Almonacid, Alex W. Slater, Tomas Norambuena, Ryan J. Taft, John S. Mattick, Francisco Melo, Juan Larrain
Transposable elements comprise a large proportion of animal genomes. Transposons can have detrimental effects on genome stability but also offer positive roles for genome evolution and gene expression regulation. Proper balance of the positive and deleterious effects of transposons is crucial for cell homeostasis and requires a mechanism that tightly regulates their expression. Herein we describe the expression of DNA transposons of the Tc1/mariner superfamily during Xenopus development. Sense and antisense transcripts containing complete Tc1-2_Xt were detected in Xenopus embryos. Both transcripts were found in zygotic stages and were mainly localized in Spemann’s organizer and neural tissues. In addition, the Tc1-like elements Eagle, Froggy, Jumpy, Maya, Xeminos and TXr were also expressed in zygotic stages but not oocytes in X. tropicalis. Interestingly, although Tc1-2_Xt transcripts were not detected in Xenopus laevis embryos, transcripts from other two Tc1-like elements (TXr and TXz) presented a similar temporal and spatial pattern during X. laevis development. Deep sequencing analysis of Xenopus tropicalis gastrulae showed that PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are specifically derived from several Tc1-like elements. The localized expression of Tc1-like elements in neural tissues suggests that they could play a role during the development of the Xenopus nervous system.
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