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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Feb 20, 1996; 93(4): 1443–1448.

Tiggers and DNA transposon fossils in the human genome.


We report several classes of human interspersed repeats that resemble fossils of DNA transposons, elements that move by excision and reintegration in the genome, whereas previously characterized mammalian repeats all appear to have accumulated by retrotransposition, which involves an RNA intermediate. The human genome contains at least 14 families and > 100,000 degenerate copies of short (180-1200 bp) elements that have 14- to 25-bp terminal inverted repeats and are flanked by either 8 bp or TA target site duplications. We describe two ancient 2.5-kb elements with coding capacity, Tigger1 and -2, that closely resemble pogo, a DNA transposon in Drosophila, and probably were responsible for the distribution of some of the short elements. The deduced pogo and Tigger proteins are related to products of five DNA transposons found in fungi and nematodes, and more distantly, to the Tc1 and mariner transposases. They also are very similar to the major mammalian centromere protein CENP-B, suggesting that this may have a transposase origin. We further identified relatively low-copy-number mariner elements in both human and sheep DNA. These belong to two subfamilies previously identified in insect genomes, suggesting lateral transfer between diverse species.

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