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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Jul;86(13):5015-9.

Plant retrotransposon from Lilium henryi is related to Ty3 of yeast and the gypsy group of Drosophila.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


The lily retrotransposon del 1-46 is 9345 base pairs (bp) long. It has long terminal repeats (LTRs) of 2406 bp (left) and 2415 bp (right), which differ in sequence by 1.4%. Sequences similar to those involved in priming DNA synthesis in retroviruses occur in the internal region. Near the left LTR is a sequence complementary to 18 residues at the 3' end of methionine initiator tRNA of three plant species, and a run of 12 purines occurs close to the right LTR. One internal reading frame of del 1-46 has relatively few stop codons. The 1462-codon product from this frame has motifs, in N to C terminus order, corresponding to those identified with RNA binding, protease, reverse transcriptase, RNase H, and integrase functions in retroviruses and certain other retrotransposons. Amino acid sequence comparisons of three conserved pol regions show del to be closely related to the Ty3 retrotransposon of yeast (37-40% identity). del is also related to the gypsy group of Drosophila (17.6, 297, gypsy/mdg4, and 412), showing closer identity with their reverse transcriptase (32-38%) and RNase H (36-45%) domains than with their integrase domain (21-26%). It is proposed that a gypsy group ancestor exchanged the integrase region with a more distantly related element since its divergence from a del/Ty3 common ancestor. The occurrence of related retrotransposons in three different kingdoms (plants, animals, and fungi) strongly implies their horizontal transmission in recent evolutionary time.

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