Report

Plasticity of Animal Genome Architecture Unmasked by Rapid Evolution of a Pelagic Tunicate

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Science  18 Nov 2010:
1194167
DOI: 10.1126/science.1194167

Abstract

Genomes of animals as different as sponge and human show conservation of global architecture. Here, we show that multiple genomic features including transposon diversity, developmental gene repertoire, physical gene order, and intron-exon organization are shattered in the tunicate Oikopleura, belonging to the sister group of vertebrates and retaining chordate morphology. Ancestral architecture of animal genomes can be deeply modified and may therefore be largely nonadaptive. This rapidly evolving animal lineage thus offers unique perspectives on the level of genome plasticity. It also illuminates issues as fundamental as the mechanisms of intron gain.