Multiple waves of recent DNA transposon activity in the bat, Myotis lucifugus

David A. Ray, Cedric Feschotte, Heidi J.T. Pagan, Jeremy D. Smith, Ellen J. Pritham, Peter Arensburger, Peter W. Atkinson, Nancy L. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


DNA transposons, or class 2 transposable elements, have successfully propagated in a wide variety of genomes. However, it is widely believed that DNA transposon activity has ceased in mammalian genomes for at least the last 40 million years. We recently reported evidence for the relatively recent activity of hAT and Helitron elements, two distinct groups of DNA transposons, in the lineage of the vespertilionid bat Myotis lucifugus. Here, we describe seven additional families that have also been recently active in the bat lineage. Early vespertilionid genome evolution was dominated by the activity of Helitrons, mariner-like and Tc2-like elements. This was followed by the colonization of Tc1-like elements, and by a more recent explosion of hAT-like elements. Finally, and most recently, piggyBac-like elements have amplified within the Myotis genome and our results indicate that one of these families is probably still expanding in natural populations. Together, these data suggest that there has been tremendous recent activity of various DNA transposons in the bat lineage that far exceeds those previously reported for any mammalian lineage. The diverse and recent populations of DNA transposons in genus Myotis will provide an unprecedented opportunity to study the impact of this class of elements on mammalian genome evolution and to better understand what makes some species more susceptible to invasion by genomic parasites than others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)717-728
Number of pages12
JournalGenome research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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