An endogenous adeno-associated virus element in elephants.


Nihon University Veterinary Research Center, Fujisawa, Kanagawa 252-0880, Japan. Electronic address: [Email]


An endogenous viral element derived from adeno-associated virus containing a nearly intact open reading frame (ORF) of the rep gene (enAAV-rep) has been identified in the genomes of various mammals including degu and African elephant. Particularly, in degu, mRNA expression of enAAV-rep has been observed specifically in the liver. Here we newly identified enAAV-rep in Asian elephant and rock hyrax, both of which are afrotherians. The enAAV-rep of African and Asian elephants appeared to be orthologous and originated from an integration event of the entire genome of AAV into the ancestral genome of elephants more than 6 million years ago, whereas that of rock hyrax appeared to have originated independently. Negative selection operating at the amino acid sequence level was detected for the ORF of enAAV-rep in elephants. As in degu, mRNA expression of enAAV-rep was specifically observed in the liver in Asian elephant. Integrations of enAAV-rep appeared to have occurred independently on the evolutionary lineages of elephants and degu, suggesting that the AAV Rep protein has been co-opted repeatedly in the mammalian liver.


Adeno-associated virus,Elephant,Endogenous viral element,Rep gene,