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J Virol. 2000 Aug;74(16):7221-9.

Novel mouse type D endogenous proviruses and ETn elements share long terminal repeat and internal sequences.

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  • 1Terry Fox Laboratory, British Columbia Cancer Agency, and Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. dixie@interchange.ubc.ca


The repetitive ETn (early transposon) family of sequences represents an active "mobile mutagen" in the mouse genome. The presence of long terminal repeats (LTRs) and other diagnostic features indicate that ETns are retrotransposons but they contain no long open reading frames or documented similarity to the genes of known retroviruses or other retroelements. Thus, the mechanisms responsible for the mobility of this family have been unknown. In this study, we used computer searches to detect a small region of previously unrecognized type D retroviral pol homology within ETn elements. This small region was used to isolate two mouse endogenous proviral elements with gag, pro, and pol genes similar to simian type D viruses. This new family of mouse endogenous proviruses, termed MusD, is present in several hundred copies in the genome. Interestingly, the MusD LTRs, 3' internal region, and the 5' region expected to contain the packaging signal are very closely related to members of the ETn subfamily that have recently transposed. Analysis of different mouse strains indicates that MusD elements predate the existence of the mobile subfamily of ETns. These findings indicate that the ETn family was likely created via recombination events resulting in a near complete substitution of MusD coding sequences with unrelated DNA. Furthermore, these results suggest that ETn transcripts retrotranspose using proteins provided by MusD proviruses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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