Publication by Eugene A. Gladyshev, Irina R. Arkhipova
We describe a novel class of single-copy reverse transcriptase (RT)-related genes that do not constitute part of any mobile genetic element, and are clearly distinct from the only known non-mobile RT genes, the telomerases, which maintain chromosome ends in eukaryotes. These RT-like genes are of ancient origin, exhibit patchy distribution across diverse phyla, including animals, fungi, plants, protists, and bacteria, are preserved by natural selection, and are biochemically active. These findings challenge the currently prevailing views on evolution and functional roles of reverse transcriptase-related sequences in living cells.
Fig. 1. Overexpression of a reverse transcriptase-like protein fused to the green fluorescent protein in the fruiting bodies of the model ascomycete fungus Neurospora crassa. Photo credit: Eugene Gladyshev.