LINE-1 transposable elements (L1s) are ubiquitous in mammals and are thought to have remained active since before the mammalian radiation. Only one L1 extinction event, in South American rodents in the genus Oryzomys, has been convincingly demonstrated. Here we examine the phylogenetic limits and evolutionary tempo of that extinction event by characterizing L1s in related rodents. Fourteen genera from five tribes within the Sigmodontinae subfamily were examined. Only the Sigmodontini, the most basal tribe in this group, demonstrate recent L1 activity. The Oryzomyini, Akodontini, Phyllotini, and Thomasomyini contain only L1s that appear to have inserted long ago; their L1s lack open reading frames, have mutations at conserved amino acid residues, and show numerous private mutations. They also lack restriction site-defined L1 subfamilies specific to any species, genus or tribe examined, and fail to form monophyletic species, genus or tribal L1 clusters. We determine here that this L1 extinction event occurred roughly 8.8 million years ago, near the divergence of Sigmodon from the remaining Sigmodontinae species. These species appear to be ideal model organisms for studying the impact of L1 inactivity on mammalian genomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology