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Genetics. 2004 Feb;166(2):895-9.

Transposition of the Tol2 element, an Ac-like element from the Japanese medaka fish Oryzias latipes, in mouse embryonic stem cells.

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  • 1Division of Molecular and Developmental Biology, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Shizuoka 411-8540, Japan. kokawaka@lab.nig.ac.jp


The Tol2 transposable element of the Japanese medaka fish belongs to the hAT family of transposons including hobo of Drosophila, Ac of maize, and Tam3 of snapdragon. To date, Tol2 is the only natural transposon in vertebrates that has ever been shown to encode a fully functional transposase. It has not been known, however, whether Tol2 can transpose in vertebrates other than fish. We report here transposition of Tol2 in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. We constructed a transposon donor plasmid containing a nonautonomous Tol2 element with the neomycin resistance gene and a helper plasmid capable of expressing the transposase and introduced the donor plasmid with various amounts of the helper plasmid by electroporation into mouse ES cells. The number of G418-resistant ES colonies increased as the amount of helper plasmid was increased, in a dose-dependent manner, indicating that the transposase activity elevated the integration efficiency. These G418-resistant ES colonies were cloned and the structure of the junction of the integrated Tol2 element and the genomic DNA was analyzed by inverse PCR. In those clones, Tol2 was surrounded by mouse genomic sequences and an 8-bp direct repeat was created adjacent to both ends of Tol2, indicating that Tol2 was integrated in the genome through transposition. The Tol2 transposon system is thus active in mouse as well as in fish. We propose that it should be used as a genetic tool to develop novel gene transfer, transgenesis, and mutagenesis methods in mammals.

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