, Volume 687, Issue 1, pp 43–47 | Cite as

First evidence of miniature transposable elements in sponges (Porifera)

  • Dirk Erpenbeck
  • Jürgen Schmitz
  • Gennady Churakov
  • Dorothée Huchon
  • Gert Wörheide
  • Bernard M. Degnan


Transposable elements play a vital role in genome evolution and may have been important for the formation of the early metazoan genome, but only little is known about transposons at this interface between unicellular opisthokonts and Metazoa. Here, we describe the first miniature transposable elements (MITEs, Queen1 and Queen2) in sponges. Queen1 and Queen2 are probably derived from Tc1/mariner-like MITE families and are represented in more than 3,800 and 1,700 copies, respectively, in the Amphimedon queenslandica genome. Queen elements are located in intergenic regions as well as in introns, providing the potential to induce new splicing sites and termination signals in the genes. Further possible impacts of MITEs on the evolution of the metazoan genome are discussed.


Early diverging Metazoa Porifera Transposable element MITE Amphimedon queenslandica Queen elements 



DE acknowledges financial support of the EU under a Marie–Curie Outgoing International Fellowship (MOIF–CT–2004 No2882). JS, GC, and GW thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for financial support (SCHM1469/3-1; Wo896/6-2 within SPP1174 “Deep Metazoan Phylogeny”). DH is supported by the Israel Science Foundation (600/06) and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent, NSF #EF-0905606.) The research was supported by an Australia Research Council grant to BMD. We thank Robert Baertsch for a local version of the UCSC Genome Browser and the A. queenslandica sequence library, Jürgen Brosius, Oliver Piskurek and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on earlier versions of the manuscript and Marsha Bundman for editing services.

Supplementary material

10750_2011_775_MOESM1_ESM.doc (34 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 34 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Erpenbeck
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jürgen Schmitz
    • 3
  • Gennady Churakov
    • 3
  • Dorothée Huchon
    • 4
    • 5
  • Gert Wörheide
    • 1
  • Bernard M. Degnan
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth- and Environmental Sciences & GeoBio-CenterLMULudwig-Maximilians UniversitätMünchenGermany
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of Experimental Pathology, ZMBEUniversity of MünsterMünsterGermany
  4. 4.Department of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life SciencesTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael
  5. 5.National Evolutionary Synthesis CenterDurhamUSA

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