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Mol Genet Genomics. 2009 Aug;282(2):165-72. doi: 10.1007/s00438-009-0453-7. Epub 2009 May 8.

Drosophila P transposons of the urochordata Ciona intestinalis.

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Laboratory of Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Virology (MMV), Centre of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


P transposons belong to the eukaryotic DNA transposons, which are transposed by a cut and paste mechanism using a P-element-coded transposase. They have been detected in Drosophila, and reside as single copies and stable homologous sequences in many vertebrate species. We present the P elements Pcin1, Pcin2 and Pcin3 from Ciona intestinalis, a species of the most primitive chordates, and compare them with those from Ciona savignyi. They showed typical DNA transposon structures, namely terminal inverted repeats and target site duplications. The coding region of Pcin1 consisted of 13 small exons that could be translated into a P-transposon-homologous protein. C. intestinalis and C. savignyi displayed nearly the same phenotype. However, their P elements were highly divergent and the assumed P transposase from C. intestinalis was more closely related to the transposase from Drosophila melanogaster than to the transposase of C. savignyi. The present study showed that P elements with typical features of transposable DNA elements may be found already at the base of the chordate lineage.

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