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J Mol Biol. 1985 Dec 5;186(3):491-503.

The Vi element. A transposon-like repeated DNA sequence interspersed in the vitellogenin locus of Xenopus laevis.


A repeated DNA element in Xenopus laevis is described that is present in about 7500 copies dispersed throughout the genome. It was first identified in the 5' flanking region of one vitellogenin gene and was therefore named the Vi element. Seven copies are present within the vitellogenin gene region, three of them within introns of the genes A1, A2 and B2, and the other four copies in the gene flanking regions. Four of these copies have been sequenced. The Vi element is bounded by a well-conserved 13 base-pair inverted repeat; in addition, it is flanked by a three base-pair direct repeat that appears to be site-specific. The length of these four copies varies from 112 to 469 base-pairs; however, sequence homology between the different copies is very high. Their structural characteristics suggest that length heterogeneity may have arisen by either unequal recombinations, deletions or tandem duplications. Altogether, the characteristics and properties of the Vi element indicate that it might represent a mobile genetic element. One of the four copies sequenced is inserted close (position -535) to the transcription initiation site of the vitellogenin gene B2 in a region otherwise showing considerable homology with the closely related gene B1. Nevertheless, the presence of the Vi element does not seem to influence significantly the estrogen-controlled expression of gene B2. In addition, three alleles of this gene created by length polymorphism in intron 3 and in the Vi element inserted near the transcription initiation site are described.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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