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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Dec 21;96(26):15330-5.

Molecular characterization of a mutable pigmentation phenotype and isolation of the first active transposable element from Sorghum bicolor.

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Department of Zoology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


Accumulation of red phlobaphene pigments in sorghum grain pericarp is under the control of the Y gene. A mutable allele of Y, designated as y-cs (y-candystripe), produces a variegated pericarp phenotype. Using probes from the maize p1 gene that cross-hybridize with the sorghum Y gene, we isolated the y-cs allele containing a large insertion element. Our results show that the Y gene is a member of the MYB-transcription factor family. The insertion element, named Candystripe1 (Cs1), is present in the second intron of the Y gene and shares features of the CACTA superfamily of transposons. Cs1 is 23,018 bp in size and is bordered by 20-bp terminal inverted repeat sequences. It generated a 3-bp target site duplication upon insertion within the Y gene and excised from y-cs, leaving a 2-bp footprint in two cases analyzed. Reinsertion of the excised copy of Cs1 was identified by Southern hybridization in the genome of each of seven red pericarp revertant lines tested. Cs1 is the first active transposable element isolated from sorghum. Our analysis suggests that Cs1-homologous sequences are present in low copy number in sorghum and other grasses, including sudangrass, maize, rice, teosinte, and sugarcane. The low copy number and high transposition frequency of Cs1 imply that this transposon could prove to be an efficient gene isolation tool in sorghum.

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