Low frequency of paleoviral infiltration across the avian phylogeny.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Mammalian genomes commonly harbor endogenous viral elements. Due to a lack of comparable genome-scale sequence data, far less is known about endogenous viral elements in avian species, even though their small genomes may enable important insights into the patterns and processes of endogenous viral element evolution. RESULTS: Through a systematic screening of the genomes of 48 species sampled across the avian phylogeny we reveal that birds harbor a limited number of endogenous viral elements compared to mammals, with only five viral families observed: Retroviridae, Hepadnaviridae, Bornaviridae, Circoviridae, and Parvoviridae. All nonretroviral endogenous viral elements are present at low copy numbers and in few species, with only endogenous hepadnaviruses widely distributed, although these have been purged in some cases. We also provide the first evidence for endogenous bornaviruses and circoviruses in avian genomes, although at very low copy numbers. A comparative analysis of vertebrate genomes revealed a simple linear relationship between endogenous viral element abundance and host genome size, such that the occurrence of endogenous viral elements in bird genomes is 6- to 13-fold less frequent than in mammals. CONCLUSIONS: These results reveal that avian genomes harbor relatively small numbers of endogenous viruses, particularly those derived from RNA viruses, and hence are either less susceptible to viral invasions or purge them more effectively.

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Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1186/s13059-014-0539-3

Publication Info

Cui, Jie, Wei Zhao, Zhiyong Huang, Erich D Jarvis, M Thomas P Gilbert, Peter J Walker, Edward C Holmes, Guojie Zhang, et al. (2014). Low frequency of paleoviral infiltration across the avian phylogeny. Genome Biol, 15(12). p. 539. 10.1186/s13059-014-0539-3 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/9315.

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Scholars@Duke

Jarvis

Erich David Jarvis

Adjunct Professor in the Deptartment of Neurobiology

Dr. Jarvis' laboratory studies the neurobiology of vocal communication. Emphasis is placed on the molecular pathways involved in the perception and production of learned vocalizations. They use an integrative approach that combines behavioral, anatomical, electrophysiological and molecular biological techniques. The main animal model used is songbirds, one of the few vertebrate groups that evolved the ability to learn vocalizations. The generality of the discoveries is tested in other vocal learning orders, such as parrots and hummingbirds, as well as non-vocal learners, such as pigeons and non-human primates. Some of the questions require performing behavior/molecular biology experiments in freely ranging animals, such as hummingbirds in tropical forest of Brazil. Recent results show that in songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds, perception and production of song are accompanied by anatomically distinct patterns of gene expression. All three groups were found to exhibit vocally-activated gene expression in exactly 7 forebrain nuclei that are very similar to each other. These structures for vocal learning and production are thought to have evolved independently within the past 70 million years, since they are absent from interrelated non-vocal learning orders. One structure, Area X of the basal ganglia's striatum in songbirds, shows large differential gene activation depending on the social context in which the bird sings. These differences may reflect a semantic content of song, perhaps similar to human language.

The overall goal of the research is to advance knowledge of the neural mechanisms for vocal learning and basic mechanisms of brain function. These goals are further achieved by combined collaborative efforts with the laboratories of Drs. Mooney and Nowicki at Duke University, who study respectively behavior and electrophysiological aspects of songbird vocal communication.


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