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Genetica. 1999;105(1):69-80.

Tsessebe, Topi and Tiang: three distinct Tc1-like transposable elements in the malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae.

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  • 1Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.


Three distinct types of Tc1-family transposable elements have been identified in the malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae. These three elements, named Tsessebe, Topi and Tiang, have the potential to encode transposases that retain most of the conserved amino acids that are characteristic of this transposon family. However, all three are diverged from each other by more than 50% at the nucleotide level. Full-length genomic clones of two types, Topi and Tsessebe, have been isolated and fully sequenced. The third, Tiang, is represented only by a 270 bp, PCR-amplified fragment of the transposase coding region. The Topi and Tsessebe elements are 1.4 kb and 2.0 kb in length, respectively, and differ in the length of their inverted terminal repeats (ITRs). The Topi elements have 26 bp ITRs, whereas the Tsessebe clones have long ITRs ranging in length from 105 to 209 bp, with the consensus being about 180 bp. This difference is due primarily to variation in the length of an internal stretch of GT repeats. The copy number and location of these elements in ovarian nurse cell polytene chromosomes varies greatly between element subtypes: Topi elements are found at between 17-31 sites, Tsessebe at 9-13 and Tiang at 20 euchromatic sites, in addition to several copies of these elements in heterochromatic DNA. The copy number and genomic insertion sites of these transposons varies between A. gambiae strains and between member species of the A. gambiae complex. This may be indicative of transpositionally active Tc1-like elements within the genome.

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