Comparative analysis of recently sequenced eukaryotic genomes has uncovered extensive variation in transposable element (TE) abundance, diversity, and distribution. The TE profile in the sequenced pufferfish genomes is more similar to that of Drosophila melanogaster than to human or mouse, in that pufferfish TEs exhibit low overall abundance, high family diversity, and localization in the heterochromatin. It has been suggested that selection against the deleterious effects of ectopic recombination between TEs has structured the TE profile in Drosophila and pufferfish but not in humans. We test this hypothesis by measuring the sample frequency of 48 euchromatic TE insertions in the genome of the green spotted pufferfish (Tetraodon nigroviridis). We estimate the strength of selection acting on recent insertions by analyzing the site frequency spectrum using a maximum-likelihood approach. We show that in contrast to Drosophila, euchromatic TE insertions in Tetraodon are selectively neutral and that the low copy number and compartmentalized distribution of TEs in the Tetraodon genome must be caused by regulation by means other than purifying selection acting on recent insertions. Inference of regulatory processes governing TE profiles should take into account factors such as effective population size, incidence of inbreeding/outcrossing, and other species-specific traits.
Neafsey, Daniel EBlumenstiel, Justin PHartl, Daniel LengComparative StudyResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.2004/09/03 05:00Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Dec;21(12):2310-8. Epub 2004 Sep 1.