Molecular Genetics and Genomics

, Volume 292, Issue 1, pp 243–250 | Cite as

Horizontal transfer of a novel Helentron in insects

  • Hua-Hao Zhang
  • Guo-Yin Li
  • Xiao-Min Xiong
  • Min-Jin Han
  • Fang-Yin Dai
Original Article


Helentrons represent a novel subtype of Helitrons. However, the evolutionary history of Helentrons in organisms is not clearly understood. In this study, we performed structure and autonomous partner analyses, which revealed that bm_455, a TE obtained from the Bombyx mori TE database, BmTEdb, was a member of Helentrons but not a long-terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposon. Further analyses showed that bm_455 was also present in a wide range of insects including lepidopterans, coleopterans and hymenopterans using a homology-based search strategy. Several lines of evidence (high sequence identity, discontinuous distribution and lack of intense purifying selection) suggested that these elements could have been transferred into these species in part by horizontal transfers (HTs). Because Helentrons can capture host gene fragments, HTs of Helentrons might have a huge impact on their host genome evolution.


Horizontal transfer Helentrons Insects 



This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31560308 and 31401106), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangxi Province (20161BAB214151) and the Hi-Tech Research and Development (863) Program of China (2013AA102507).

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

HHZ declares that he has no conflict of interest. GYL declares that he has no conflict of interest. XMX declares that she has no conflict of interest. MJH declares that he has no conflict of interest. FYD declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

438_2016_1270_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Table S1 Accession numbers of three host genes (Hsc70-4, tub3 and EF1a) in studied species (DOCX 13 kb)
438_2016_1270_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (12 kb)
Table S2 Consensus sequences of Helentron identified in this study (XLSX 11 kb)
438_2016_1270_MOESM3_ESM.doc (31 kb)
Table S3 Pairwise comparison of Helentron nucleotide sequence identities in studied species (DOC 31 kb)
438_2016_1270_MOESM4_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Table S4 Nucleotide sequence divergence of three host genes (Hsc70-4, tub3 and EF1a) (DOCX 14 kb)
438_2016_1270_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (2.5 mb)
Figure S1 Multiple alignments of non-autonomous Helentrons identified in this study. Their subTIRs and stem-loop were shown using black and red boxes, respectively (PDF 2602 kb)
438_2016_1270_MOESM6_ESM.pdf (207 kb)
Figure S2 Multiple alignments of the incomplete endonuclease encoded by Helentron_NA_CV with those of other reported Helentrons. A 175 aa protein was identified in the Helentron_NA_CV using ORF Finder ( This protein contained partial endonuclease sequences, which have 3/6 (V-VII) conserved motifs of complete endonuclease. Helentrons of other species was obtained from previous study (Thomas et al. 2014). Species abbreviations are as follows: CV, Cotesia vestalis; DR, Daniorerio; XM, Xiphophorus maculatus; SK, Saccoglossus kowalevskii; MC, Mucor circinelloides (PDF 206 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hua-Hao Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guo-Yin Li
    • 3
  • Xiao-Min Xiong
    • 4
  • Min-Jin Han
    • 1
  • Fang-Yin Dai
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Silkworm Genome Biology, Key Laboratory for Sericulture Functional Genomics and Biotechnology of Agricultural MinistrySouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.College of Pharmacy and Life ScienceJiujiang UniversityJiujiangChina
  3. 3.Department of PathologyHanzhoung 3201 HospitalHanzhoung cityChina
  4. 4.Clinical Medical CollegeJiujiang UniversityJiujiangChina

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