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© Research
Publication : Nature reviews. Genetics

Evolutionary entanglement of mobile genetic elements and host defence systems: guns for hire

Scientific Fields
Diseases
Organisms
Applications
Technique

Published in Nature reviews. Genetics - 01 Feb 2020

Koonin EV, Makarova KS, Wolf YI, Krupovic M

Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 31611667

Link to DOI [DOI] – 10.1038/s41576-019-0172-9

Nat. Rev. Genet. 2020 Feb;21(2):119-131

All cellular life forms are afflicted by diverse genetic parasites, including viruses and other types of mobile genetic elements (MGEs), and have evolved multiple, diverse defence systems that protect them from MGE assault via different mechanisms. Here, we provide our perspectives on how recent evidence points to tight evolutionary connections between MGEs and defence systems that reach far beyond the proverbial arms race. Defence systems incur a fitness cost for the hosts; therefore, at least in prokaryotes, horizontal mobility of defence systems, mediated primarily by MGEs, is essential for their persistence. Moreover, defence systems themselves possess certain features of selfish elements. Common components of MGEs, such as site-specific nucleases, are ‘guns for hire’ that can also function as parts of defence mechanisms and are often shuttled between MGEs and defence systems. Thus, evolutionary and molecular factors converge to mould the multifaceted, inextricable connection between MGEs and anti-MGE defence systems.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31611667