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EMBO J. 1996 Oct 1; 15(19): 5470–5479.
PMCID: PMC452289

A purified mariner transposase is sufficient to mediate transposition in vitro.


Mariners are a widespread and diverse family of animal transposons. Extremely similar mariners of the irritans subfamily are present in the genomes of three divergent insect host species, which strongly suggests that species-specific host factors are unnecessary for mobility. We tested this hypothesis by examining the activity of a purified transposase from one of these elements (Himar1) present in the horn fly, Haematobia irritans. Himar1 transposase was sufficient to reproduce transposition faithfully in an in vitro inter-plasmid transposition reaction. Further analyses showed that Himar1 transposase binds to the inverted terminal repeat sequences of its cognate transposon and mediates 5' and 3' cleavage of the element termini. Independence of species-specific host factors helps to explain why mariners have such a broad distribution and why they are capable of horizontal transfer between species.

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