Endogenous Viral Elements Are Widespread in Arthropod Genomes and Commonly Give Rise to PIWI-Interacting RNAs.


:Arthropod genomes contain sequences derived from integrations of DNA and nonretroviral RNA viruses. These sequences, known as endogenous viral elements (EVEs), have been acquired over the course of evolution and have been proposed to serve as a record of past viral infections. Recent evidence indicates that EVEs can function as templates for the biogenesis of PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) in some mosquito species and cell lines, raising the possibility that EVEs may serve as a source of immunological memory in these organisms. However, whether piRNAs are derived from EVEs or serve an antiviral function in other arthropod species is unknown. Here, we used publicly available genome assemblies and small RNA sequencing data sets to characterize the repertoire and function of EVEs across 48 arthropod genomes. We found that EVEs are widespread in arthropod genomes and primarily correspond to unclassified single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) viruses and viruses belonging to the Rhabdoviridae and Parvoviridae families. Additionally, EVEs were enriched in piRNA clusters in a majority of species, and we found that production of primary piRNAs from EVEs is common, particularly for EVEs located within piRNA clusters. While the abundance of EVEs within arthropod genomes and the frequency with which EVEs give rise to primary piRNAs generally support the hypothesis that EVEs contribute to an antiviral response via the piRNA pathway, limited nucleotide identity between currently described viruses and EVEs identified here likely limits the extent to which this process plays a role during infection with known viruses in the arthropod species analyzed.IMPORTANCE Our results greatly expand the knowledge of EVE abundance, diversity, and function in an exceptionally wide range of arthropod species. We found that while previous findings in mosquitoes regarding the potential of EVEs to serve as sources of immunological memory via the piRNA pathway may be generalized to other arthropod species, speculation regarding the antiviral function of EVE-derived piRNAs should take into context the fact that EVEs are, in the vast majority of cases, not similar enough to currently described viruses at the nucleotide level to serve as sources of antiviral piRNAs against them.


J Virol


Journal of virology


Ter Horst AM,Nigg JC,Dekker FM,Falk BW




Has Abstract


2019-03-05 00:00:00












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