Functional indications for transposase domestications - characterization of the human piggyBac transposase derived (PGBD) activities


  • O. Kolacsek
  • G. Wachtl
  • Á. Fóthi
  • A. Schamberger
  • S. Sándor
  • E. Pergel
  • N. Varga
  • T. Raskó
  • Z. Izsvák
  • Á. Apáti
  • T.I. Orbán


  • Gene


  • Gene 834: 146609


  • Transposable elements are widespread in all living organisms. In addition to self-reproduction, they are a major source of genetic variation that drives genome evolution but our knowledge of the functions of human genes derived from transposases is limited. There are examples of transposon-derived, domesticated human genes that lost (SETMAR) or retained (THAP9) their transposase activity, however, several remnants in the human genome have not been thoroughly investigated yet. These include the five human piggyBac-derived sequences (PGBD1-5) which share ancestry with the Trichoplusia ni originated piggyBac (PB) transposase. Since PB is widely used in gene delivery applications, the potential activities of endogenous PGBDs are important to address. However, previous data is controversial, especially with the claimed transposition activity of PGBD5, it awaits further investigations. Here, we aimed to systematically analyze all five human PGBD proteins from several aspects, including phylogenetic conservation, potential transposase activity, expression pattern and their regulation in different stress conditions. Among PGBDs, PGBD5 is under the highest purifying selection, and exhibits the most cell type specific expression pattern. In a two-component vector system, none of the human PGBDs could mobilize either the insect PB transposon or the endogenous human PB-like MER75 and MER85 elements with intact terminal sequences. When cells were exposed to various stress conditions, including hypoxia, oxidative or UV stress, the expression profiles of all PGBDs showed different, often cell type specific responses; however, the pattern of PGBD5 in most cases had the opposite tendency than that of the other piggyBac-derived elements. Taken together, our results indicate that human PGBD elements did not retain their mobilizing activity, but their cell type specific, and cellular stress related expression profiles point toward distinct domesticated functions that requires further characterization.