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Mol Cell Biol. 1995 Aug;15(8):4545-52.

Structural analysis of TRAS1, a novel family of telomeric repeat-associated retrotransposons in the silkworm, Bombyx mori.

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  • 1Zoological Institute, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Japan.


We characterized TRAS1, a retrotransposable element which was inserted into the telomeric repetitive sequence (CCTAA)n of the silkworm, Bombyx mori. The complete sequence of TRAS1, a stretch of 7.8 kb with a poly(A) tract at the 3' end, was determined. No long terminal repeat (LTR) was found at the termini of the element. TRAS1 contains gag- and pol-like open reading frames (ORFs) which are similar to those of non-LTR retrotransposons. The two ORFs overlap but are one nucleotide out of frame (+1 frameshift). Most of the approximately 250 copies of TRAS1 elements in the genome were highly conserved in the structure. Chromosomal in situ hybridization showed that TRAS1 elements are clustered at the telomeres of Bombyx chromosomes. A phylogenetic analysis using the amino acid sequence of the reverse transcriptase domain within the pol-like ORF revealed that TRAS1 falls into one lineage with R1, which is a family of non-LTR retrotransposons inserted into the same site within the 28S ribosomal DNA unit in most insects. TRAS1 may have been derived from R1 and changed the target specificity so that TRAS1 inserts into the telomeric repetitive sequence (CCTAA)n. Southern hybridization and Bal 31 exonuclease analyses showed that TRAS1 elements are clustered proximal to the terminal long tract of (CCTAA)n. TRAS1 is a novel family of non-LTR retrotransposons which are inserted into the telomeric repetitive sequences as target sites.

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