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Mol Biol Evol. 2000 Nov;17(11):1685-94.

Sequence analysis of transposable elements in the sea squirt, Ciona intestinalis.

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1
Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland. m.simmen@ed.ac.uk

Abstract

A systematic search of 1 Mb of genomic sequences from the sea squirt, Ciona intestinalis, revealed the presence of six families of transposable elements. The Cigr-1 retrotransposon contains identical 245-bp long terminal repeats (LTRs) and a 3,630-bp open reading frame (ORF) encoding translation products in the same order as the domains characteristic of gypsy/Ty3-type LTR retrotransposons. The closest homologs of the reverse transcriptase domain were in gypsy elements from Drosophila and the sushi element from the pufferfish. However, the capsid-nucleocapsid region shows the clearest homology to an echinoderm element, Tgr1. Database searches also indicated two classes of non-LTR retrotransposon, named Cili-1 and Cili-2. The Cili-1 sequences show matches to regions of the ORF2 product of mammalian L1 elements. The Cili-2 sequences possess similarity to the RNaseH domain of Lian-Aa1, a mosquito non-LTR retrotransposon. The most abundant element was a short interspersed nucleotide element named Cics-1 with a copy number estimated at 40,000. Cics-1 consists of two conserved domains separated by an A-rich stretch. The 172-bp 5' domain is related to tRNA sequences, whereas the 110-bp 3' domain is unique. Cics-1 is unusual, not just in its modular structure, but also in its lack of a 3' poly(A) tail or direct flanking repeats. A second abundant element, Cimi-1, has an A+T-rich 193-bp consensus sequence and 30-bp terminal inverted repeats (TIRs) and is usually flanked by A+T-rich 2-4-bp putative target site duplications-characteristics of miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements found in plants and insects. A single 2,444-bp foldback element was found, possessing long TIRs containing an A+T-rich internal domain, an array of subrepeats, and a flanking domain at the TIR ends; this is the first example of a chordate foldback element. This study provides the first systematic characterization of the families of transposable elements in a lower chordate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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