Characterization of a retrotransposon-like element from Entamoeba histolytica

Rachna Sharma, Anindya Bagchi, Alok Bhattacharya, Sudha Bhattacharya

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The protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica is the causative agent of amoebiasis. The genome organization of this organism is not well understood. We had earlier reported the presence of a multicopy sequence, HMc, in E. histolytica. Subsequent analysis showed that HMc is a member of a retrotransposon family that we have named the E. histolytica retrotransposon-like element (EhRLE). Four other members of this family have been characterized. The EhRLE family is distributed across all chromosomes of the parasite. There are 140 copies, which show minor sequence variation with respect to one another (2-4% from the consensus sequence). From a sequence analysis of five members of the EhRLE family, the complete EhRLE unit is estimated to be 4086 bp in length. It has a 27-mer inverted repeat at its ends. A pairwise comparison with sequences in the database showed a highly significant match of a part of EhRLE with reverse transcriptases (RT), especially those encoded by non-long terminal repeat retrotransposons. There are stop codons in all the five EhRLEs, but a continuous open reading frame of 464 amino acids could be reconstructed by comparing the sequences of several EhRLEs. The reconstructed sequence showed a much better identity with RT as compared with any of the original EhRLE sequences. The non-pathogenic species, Entamoeba dispar, also contains this element, with 85% sequence identity with EhRLE. The data suggest that EhRLE may be a retrotransposon, but many of its members are probably nonfunctional due to the accumulation of mutations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Biochemical Parasitology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The E. histolytica genome sequences were accessed from the genome sequence survey (GSS) division of GenBank data base in NCBI ( ). These sequences are a part of the ongoing large-scale sequencing project of E. histolytica at The Institute of Genome Research, which is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Funding Information:
Rachna Sharma and Anindya Bagchi thank the University Grants Commission for a research fellowship. This work was funded by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, India


  • Entamoeba histolytica
  • Non-long terminal repeat
  • Retrotransposons
  • Reverse transcriptase


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