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J Mol Biol. 1992 Jun 5;225(3):917-24.

Ulysses transposable element of Drosophila shows high structural similarities to functional domains of retroviruses.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.


We have determined the DNA structure of the Ulysses transposable element of Drosophila virilis and found that this transposon is 10,653 bp and is flanked by two unusually large direct repeats 2136 bp long. Ulysses shows the characteristic organization of LTR-containing retrotransposons, with matrix and capsid protein domains encoded in the first open reading frame. In addition, Ulysses contains protease, reverse transcriptase, RNase H and integrase domains encoded in the second open reading frame. Ulysses lacks a third open reading frame present in some retrotransposons that could encode an env-like protein. A dendrogram analysis based on multiple alignments of the protease, reverse transcriptase, RNase H, integrase and tRNA primer binding site of all known Drosophila LTR-containing retrotransposon sequences establishes a phylogenetic relationship of Ulysses to other retrotransposons and suggests that Ulysses belongs to a new family of this type of elements.

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