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Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Aug;39(15):6608-19. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr261. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

Genetically tagged TRE5-A retrotransposons reveal high amplification rates and authentic target site preference in the Dictyostelium discoideum genome.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, School of Biology and Pharmacy, Institute of Pharmacy, University of Jena, Semmelweisstrasse 10, 07743 Jena, Germany.


Retrotransposons contribute significantly to the evolution of eukaryotic genomes. They replicate by producing DNA copies of their own RNA, which are integrated at new locations in the host cell genome. In the gene-dense genome of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, retrotransposon TRE5-A avoids insertional mutagenesis by targeting the transcription factor (TF) IIIC/IIIB complex and integrating ∼ 50 bp upstream of tRNA genes. We generated synthetic TRE5-A retrotransposons (TRE5-A(bsr)) that were tagged with a selection marker that conferred resistance to blasticidin after a complete retrotransposition cycle. We found that the TRE5-A(bsr) elements were efficiently mobilized in trans by proteins expressed from the endogenous TRE5-A population found in D. discoideum cells. ORF1 protein translated from TRE5-A(bsr) elements significantly enhanced retrotransposition. We observed that the 5' untranslated region of TRE5-A could be replaced by an unrelated promoter, whereas the 3' untranslated region of TRE5-A was essential for retrotransposition. A predicted secondary structure in the RNA of the 3' untranslated region of TRE5-A may be involved in the retrotransposition process. The TRE5-A(bsr) elements were capable of identifying authentic integration targets in vivo, including formerly unnoticed, putative binding sites for TFIIIC on the extrachromosomal DNA element that carries the ribosomal RNA genes.

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