Acquisition of an animal gene by microsporidian intracellular parasites

Mohammed Selman, Jean Franois Pombert, Leellen Solter, Laurent Farinelli, Louis M. Weiss, Patrick Keeling, Nicolas Corradi

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Summary Parasites have adapted to their specialised way of life by a number of means, including the acquisition of genes by horizontal gene transfer. These newly acquired genes seem to come from a variety of sources, but seldom from the host, even in the most intimate associations between obligate intracellular parasite and host [1]. Microsporidian intracellular parasites have acquired a handful of genes, mostly from bacteria, that help them take energy from their hosts or protect them from the environment [2] and [3]. To date, however, no animal genes have been documented in any microsporidian genome. Here, we have surveyed the genome of the microsporidian Encephalitozoon romaleae, which parasitises arthropods for evidence of animal genes. We found one protein-encoding gene that is absent from publicly available sequence data from other microsporidia. The gene encodes a component of the purine salvage pathway, and has been independently acquired by other parasites through horizontal gene transfer from other donors. In this case, however, the gene shows a very strong phylogenetic signal for arthropod origin.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R576--R577
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 9 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • INHS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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