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RNA Biol. 2011 Sep-Oct;8(5):714-8. doi: 10.4161/rna.8.5.16033. Epub 2011 Jul 7.

The R2 retrotransposon RNA families.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA.


Analysis of the R2 retrotransposons from multiple silkmoth and fruitfly species have revealed three segments that contain conserved RNA secondary structures. These conserved structures play important roles in the propagation of the R2 element, including R2 RNA processing and transposon integration into the host genome as well as a likely role in translation. Two of the structured regions comprise protein binding sites: one is located in the 3' UTR and the other is in the 5' UTR close to the putative start of the R2 open reading frame (ORF). The 3' structure was deduced from chemical mapping and sequence comparison. The 5' structure was determined using a combination of chemical mapping, oligonucleotide binding, NMR and sequence analysis and contains an unusual pseudoknot structure. The third structure occurs at the 5' end of the R2 RNA and is responsible for self-cleavage of the 5' end of the element from a 28S ribosomal RNA co-transcript. A structure for this fragment was proposed based on motif searching and sequence comparison. There is remarkable similarity in sequence and structure to the hepatitis delta virus (HDV) ribozyme. Seed alignments for the 5' structure and the R2 ribozyme, containing representative sequences and consensus structures, have been submitted to the Rfam database.

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