A nuclear ribosomal DNA pseudogene in triatomines opens a new research field of fundamental and applied implications in Chagas disease|
Zuriaga, María Angeles; Mas-Coma, Santiago & Bargues, María Dolores
A pseudogene, designated as “ps(5.8S+ITS-2)”, paralogous to the 5.8S gene and internal transcribed spacer (ITS)-2 of the nuclear ribosomal DNA (rDNA), has been recently found in many triatomine species distributed throughout North America, Central America and northern South America. Among characteristics used as criteria for pseudogene verification, secondary structures and free energy are highlighted, showing a lower fit between minimum free energy, partition function and centroid structures, although in given cases the fit only appeared to be slightly lower. The unique characteristics of “ps(5.8S+ITS-2)” as a processed or retrotransposed pseudogenic unit of the ghost type are reviewed, with emphasis on its potential functionality compared to the functionality of genes and spacers of the normal rDNA operon. Besides the technical problem of the risk for erroneous sequence results, the usefulness of “ps(5.8S+ITS-2)” for specimen classification, phylogenetic analyses and systematic/taxonomic studies should be highlighted, based on consistence and retention index values, which in pseudogenic sequence trees were higher than in functional sequence trees. Additionally, intraindividual, interpopulational and interspecific differences in pseudogene amount and the fact that it is a pseudogene in the nuclear rDNA suggests a potential relationships with fitness, behaviour and adaptability of triatomine vectors and consequently its potential utility in Chagas disease epidemiology and control.
triatomines; Chagas disease; rDNA pseudogene; secondary structures; free energy; functionality