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Genetics. 1991 Jun;128(2):311-8.

Molecular and functional analysis of the mariner mutator element Mos1 in Drosophila.

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Department of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110-1095.


The white-peach allele in Drosophila results from insertion of the transposable element mariner. The particular copy that is inserted in white-peach is an inactive copy referred to as the peach element. The peach element is excised at a high rate in the presence of active copies of mariner located elsewhere in the genome, and the excision of peach in somatic cells is recognized phenotypically by the occurrence of eye-color mosaicism in white-peach flies. Active mariner elements identified by their ability to induce high levels of white-peach mosaicism are denoted Mos (Mosaic) factors. We have sequenced and functionally analyzed the factor Mos1 originally identified in Drosophila mauritiana. The Mos1 element is 1286 base pairs in length, the same length as the peach element. It differs from the peach element in 11 nucleotide positions distributed throughout its length, including four amino acid replacements in the long open reading frame. Analysis of chimeric constructs between Mos1 and peach implies that functionally important differences occur in both the 5' and 3' halves of Mos1. A mariner element identical in sequence to Mos1 yields lower levels of mosaicism in transformants, implying that adjacent flanking sequences have important effects on Mos1 activity. Another mariner element, designated Ma351, isolated from a nonmosaic strain of D. mauritiana, differs from Mos1 in just three nucleotide positions. When introduced into the germline, Ma351 yields various levels of white-peach mosaicism depending on insertion site. These results imply that the activity of mariner elements is determined jointly by their own nucleotide sequences, by the effects of adjacent flanking sequences, and by longer-range position effects.

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