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Gene. 1989 Sep 1;81(1):97-108.

Transposon mutagenesis of baculoviruses: analysis of TFP3 lepidopteran transposon insertions at the FP locus of nuclear polyhedrosis viruses.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, IN 46556.


We report the complete sequences of two representatives of the TFP3 transposable element family of the lepidopteran, Trichoplusia ni. These elements were isolated as insertions mobilized from the Lepidopteran host genome into two closely related nuclear polyhedrosis viruses (NPV) during infection. Both elements inserted within the 500-bp FP locus of the respective viral genomes (map units 36.0 to 37.0), causing a distinctive plaque morphology phenotype and the loss of a 25-kDa viral-specific protein. Both insertions occurred at the identical TTAA target site in the respective genomes, in the same relative orientation, and are flanked by 15-bp imperfect inverted repeats. The inserted elements interrupt the 25K open reading frame (ORF). One of these FP mutants undergoes spontaneous reversion. Sequence analysis at the excision site of a spontaneous revertant demonstrates that the TFP3 elements are capable of precise excision, restoring the expression of the 25-kDa protein. We also compare the sequences of the 25K genes of the Autographa californica and Galleria mellonella viruses (AcMNPV and GmMNPV, respectively). The 25K gene sequences diverge in five areas, resulting in an additional EcoRV and TaqI site within the GmMNPV 25K gene, and extension of the ORF for an additional 2 amino acids at the C-terminus of the predicted GmMNPV 25 kDa protein. The phenomenon of transposon mutagenesis of Baculovirus genomes provides a unique opportunity for analysis of transposon mobility.

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