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Mol Biol Evol. 2001 Dec;18(12):2315-22.

The evolutionary origin and genomic organization of SINEs in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Blaise Pascal Clermont-Ferrand II, Aubière cedex, France.


We have characterized the two families of SINE retroposons present in Arabidopsis thaliana. The origin, distribution, organization, and evolutionary history of RAthE1 and RAthE2 elements were studied and compared to the well-characterized SINE S1 element from Brassica. Our studies show that RAthE1, RAthE2, and S1 retroposons were generated independently from three different tRNAs. The RAthE1 and RAthE2 families are older than the S1 family and are present in all tested Cruciferae species. The evolutionary history of the RAthE1 family is unusual for SINEs. The 144 RAthE1 elements of the Arabidopsis genome cannot be classified in distinct subfamilies of different evolutionary ages as is the case for S1, RAthE2, and mammalian SINEs. Instead, most RAthE1 elements were probably derived steadily from a single source gene that was maintained intact and active for at least 12-20 Myr, a result suggesting that the RAthE1 source gene was under selection. The distribution of RAthE1 and RAthE2 elements on the Arabidopsis physical map was studied. We observed that, in contrast to other Arabidopsis transposable elements, SINEs are not concentrated in the heterochromatic regions. Instead, SINEs are grouped in the euchromatic chromosome territories several hundred kilobase pairs long. In these territories, SINE elements are closely associated with genes. A retroposition partnership between Arabidopsis SINEs and LINEs is proposed.

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