DO PHAGES EFFICIENTLY SHUTTLE TRANSPOSABLE ELEMENTS AMONG PROKARYOTES?
Article first published online: 13 SEP 2011
© 2011 The Author(s). Evolution© 2011 The Society for the Study of Evolution.
Volume 65, Issue 11, pages 3327–3331, November 2011
How to Cite
Leclercq, S. and Cordaux, R. (2011), DO PHAGES EFFICIENTLY SHUTTLE TRANSPOSABLE ELEMENTS AMONG PROKARYOTES?. Evolution, 65: 3327–3331. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01395.x
- Issue published online: 24 OCT 2011
- Article first published online: 13 SEP 2011
- Accepted manuscript online: 27 JUN 2011 11:40AM EST
- Received March 28, 2011, Accepted June 15, 2011
- Horizontal transfer;
- insertion sequence;
The distribution, dynamics, and evolution of insertion sequences (IS), the most frequent class of prokaryotic transposable elements, are conditioned by their ability to horizontally transfer between cells. IS horizontal transfer (HT) requires shuttling by other mobile genetic elements. It is widely assumed in the literature that these vectors are phages and plasmids. By examining the relative abundance of IS in 454 plasmid and 446 phage genomes, we found that IS are very frequent in plasmids but, surprisingly, very rare in phages. Our results indicate that IS rarity in phages reflects very strong and efficient postinsertional purifying selection, mainly caused by a higher density of deleterious insertion sites in phages compared to plasmids. As they do not tolerate IS insertions, we conclude that phages may be rather poor vectors of IS HT in prokaryotes, in sharp contrast with the conventional view.