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Trends Genet. 1999 Aug;15(8):326-32.

Resident aliens: the Tc1/mariner superfamily of transposable elements.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Biology, Netherlands Cancer Institute and Center for Biomedical Genetics, Division of Molecular Biology, Plesmanlaan 121, Amsterdam 1066CX, The Netherlands. rplas@nki.nl


Transgenic technology is currently applied to several animal species of agricultural or medical importance, such as fish, cattle, mosquitos and parasitic worms. However, the repertoire of genetic tools used for molecular analyses of mice and Drosophila is not always applicable to other species. For example, while retroviral enhancer-trap experiments in mice can be based on embryonic stem (ES) cell technology, this is not currently an option with other animals. Similarly, the germline transformation of Drosophila depends on the use of the P-element transposon, which does not jump in other genera. This article analyses the main characteristics of Tc1/mariner transposable elements, examines some of the factors that have contributed to their evolutionary success, and describes their potential, as well as their limitations, for transgenesis and insertional mutagenesis in diverse animals.

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