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EMBO J. Dec 1, 1987; 6(12): 3819–3826.
PMCID: PMC553854

Multiple copies of a retroposon interrupt spliced leader RNA genes in the African trypanosome, Trypanosoma gambiense.

Abstract

The 140-nucleotide spliced leader (SL) RNA, involved in mRNA maturation in the African trypanosomes and in other kinetoplastida, is encoded by a tandem array of spliced leader genes. We show that the 1.4-kb SL gene repeat unit in Trypanosoma gambiense is organized in tandem arrays confined to two large (minimum size 350-450 kb) restriction fragments. SL genes in both arrays are interrupted by a total of eight conserved insertion elements. Cleavage of genomic DNA at restriction sites present within the insertion element but not in the SL gene repeat, releases variable numbers of SL genes from the tandem array. Since the insertion element contains a terminal poly(A) track of 36 bases and because a 49-bp duplication of target DNA has occurred at the integration site, we conclude that it is a retroposon. This retropson is uniquely associated with the SL gene clusters. These retroposons presumably originated from a single insertion event after which their copy number increased, possibly through unequal sister chromatid exchange.

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Selected References

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