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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jul 8;94(14):7475-80.

Three novel families of miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements are associated with genes of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti.

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  • 1Department of Entomology and Center for Insect Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


Three novel families of transposable elements, Wukong, Wujin, and Wuneng, are described in the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Their copy numbers range from 2,100 to 3,000 per haploid genome. There are high degrees of sequence similarity within each family, and many structural but not sequence similarities between families. The common structural characteristics include small size, no coding potential, terminal inverted repeats, potential to form a stable secondary structure, A+T richness, and putative 2- to 4-bp A+T-biased specific target sites. Evidence of previous mobility is presented for the Wukong elements. Elements of these three families are associated with 7 of 16 fully or partially sequenced Ae. aegypti genes. Characteristics of these mosquito elements indicate strong similarities to the miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements (MITEs) recently found to be associated with plant genes. MITE-like elements have also been reported in two species of Xenopus and in Homo sapiens. This characterization of multiple families of highly repetitive MITE-like elements in an invertebrate extends the range of these elements in eukaryotic genomes. A hypothesis is presented relating genome size and organization to the presence of highly reiterated MITE families. The association of MITE-like elements with Ae. aegypti genes shows the same bias toward noncoding regions as in plants. This association has potentially important implications for the evolution of gene regulation.

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