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Mol Cell Biol. 1990 Jun;10(6):3067-77.

Gene organization and transcription of TED, a lepidopteran retrotransposon integrated within the baculovirus genome.

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  • 1Institute for Molecular Virology, Graduate School, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706.


A single copy of the retrotransposon TED, from the moth Trichoplusia ni (a lepidopteran noctuid), was identified within the DNA genome of the baculovirus Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus. Determination of the complete nucleotide sequence (7,510 base pairs) of the integrated copy indicated that TED belongs to the family of retrotransposons that includes Drosophila melanogaster elements 17.6 and gypsy and thus represents the first nondipteran member of this invertebrate group to be identified. The internal portion of TED, flanked by long terminal repeats (LTRs), is composed of three long open reading frames comparable in size and location to the gag, pol, and env genes of the vertebrate retroviruses. Sequence similarity with the dipteran elements was the highest within individual domains of TED open reading frame 2 (pol region) that are also conserved among the retroviruses and encode protease, reverse transcriptase, and integrase functions, respectively. Mapping the 5' and 3' termini of TED RNAs indicated that the LTRs have a retroviral U3-R-U5 structural organization that is capable of directing the synthesis of transcripts that represent potential substrates for reverse transcription and intermediates in transposition. Abundant RNAs were also initiated from a site within the 5' LTR that matches the consensus motif for the promoter of late, hyperexpressed baculovirus genes. The presence of this viruslike promoter within TED and its subsequent activation only after integration within the viral genome suggest a possible symbiotic relationship with the baculovirus that could extend transposon host range.

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