Six domesticated PiggyBac transposases together carry out programmed DNA elimination in Paramecium

Elife. 2018 Sep 18:7:e37927. doi: 10.7554/eLife.37927.


The domestication of transposable elements has repeatedly occurred during evolution and domesticated transposases have often been implicated in programmed genome rearrangements, as remarkably illustrated in ciliates. In Paramecium, PiggyMac (Pgm), a domesticated PiggyBac transposase, carries out developmentally programmed DNA elimination, including the precise excision of tens of thousands of gene-interrupting germline Internal Eliminated Sequences (IESs). Here, we report the discovery of five groups of distant Pgm-like proteins (PgmLs), all able to interact with Pgm and essential for its nuclear localization and IES excision genome-wide. Unlike Pgm, PgmLs lack a conserved catalytic site, suggesting that they rather have an architectural function within a multi-component excision complex embedding Pgm. PgmL depletion can increase erroneous targeting of residual Pgm-mediated DNA cleavage, indicating that PgmLs contribute to accurately position the complex on IES ends. DNA rearrangements in Paramecium constitute a rare example of a biological process jointly managed by six distinct domesticated transposases.

Keywords: DNA elimination; IES; chromosomes; ciliates; gene expression; piggyBacv; transposées domestication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Genome, Protozoan
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Models, Biological
  • Paramecium / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Transposases / chemistry
  • Transposases / genetics
  • Transposases / metabolism*


  • DNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transposases