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Genetics. 2001 Aug;158(4):1557-67.

Dynamics of R1 and R2 elements in the rDNA locus of Drosophila simulans.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14627, USA.


The mobile elements R1 and R2 insert specifically into the rRNA gene locus (rDNA locus) of arthropods, a locus known to undergo concerted evolution, the recombinational processes that preserve the sequence homogeneity of all repeats. To monitor how rapidly individual R1 and R2 insertions are turned over in the rDNA locus by these processes, we have taken advantage of the many 5' truncation variants that are generated during the target-primed reverse transcription mechanism used by these non-LTR retrotransposons for their integration. A simple PCR assay was designed to reveal the pattern of the 5' variants present in the rDNA loci of individual X chromosomes in a population of Drosophila simulans. Each rDNA locus in this population was found to have a large, unique collection of 5' variants. Each variant was present at low copy number, usually one copy per chromosome, and was seldom distributed to other chromosomes in the population. The failure of these variants to spread to other units in the same rDNA locus suggests a strong recombinational bias against R1 and R2 that results in the individual copies of these elements being rapidly lost from the rDNA locus. This bias suggests a significantly higher frequency of R1 and R2 retrotransposition than we have previously suggested.

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