In silico evidence for the species-specific conservation of mosquito retroposons: implications as a molecular biomarker
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Background: Mosquitoes are the transmissive vectors for several infectious pathogens that affect man. However, the control of mosquitoes through insecticide and pesticide spraying has proved difficult in the past. We hypothesized that, by virtue of their reported vertical inheritance among mosquitoes, group II introns – a class of small coding ribonucleic acids (scRNAs) – may form a potential species-specific biomarker. Structurally, introns are a six-moiety complex. Depending on the function of the protein encoded within the IV moiety, the highly mobile class of group II introns or retroposons is sub-divided into two: Restriction Endonuclease (REase)-like and Apurinic aPyramydinic Endonuclease (APE)-like. REase-like retroposons are thought to be the ancestors of APE retroposons. Our aim in this study was to find evidence for the highly species-specific conservation of the APE subclass of mosquito retroposons. Methods and Results: In silico targeted sequence alignments were conducted across a 1,779-organism genome database (1,518 bacterial, 59 archeal, 201 eukaryotic, and the human), using three mosquito retroposon sequence tags (RST) as BLASTN queries [AJ970181 and AJ90201 of Culex pipien origin and AJ970301 of Anoplese sinensis origin]. At a calibration of E = 10, A & D = 100, default filtration and a homology cut-off of >95% identity, no hits were found on any of the 1,518 bacterial genomes. Eleven (100%) and 15 (100%) hits obtained on the 201-eukaryote genome database were homologs (>95% score) of C.pipien quinquefasciatus JHB retroposons, but none of An. sinensis. Twenty and 221 low score (30–43% identity) spurious hits were found at flanking ends of genes and contigs in the human genome with the C.pipien and An. sinensis RSTs respectively. Functional and positional inference revealed these to be possible relatives of human genomic spliceosomes. We advance two models for the application of mosquito RST: as precursors for developing molecular biomarkers for mosquitoes, and as RST-specific monoclonal antibody (MAb)-DDT immunoconjugates to enhance targeted toxicity. Conclusion: We offer evidence to support the species-specific conservation of mosquito retroposons among lower taxa. Our findings suggest that retroposons may therefore constitute a unique biomarker for mosquito species that may be exploited in molecular entomology. Mosquito RST-specific MAbs may possibly permit synthesis of DDT immunoconjugates that could be used to achieve species-tailored toxicity.