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J Mol Biol. 1994 Oct 21;243(2):157-66.

Transposable group II introns in fission and budding yeast. Site-specific genomic instabilities and formation of group II IVS plDNAs.

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Vienna Biocenter, University of Vienna, Austria.


The recent report on RNA-mediated group II intron (IVS, intervening sequence) transposition in mitochondria (mt) of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Podospora anserina and the demonstration of reverse transcriptase (RT) activity encoded by the mobile S. cerevisiae intron cox1-aI1 suggests that group II introns constitute a new class of site-specific retro-like (retroid) elements. This is supported by the finding that the mitochondrial cob1-bI1 intron from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, encoding an RT-like open reading frame, is transposed in mtDNA populations. In agreement with the involvement of an RNA-intermediate in IVS transposition: First, the insertion sites were preceded by at least an IBS1-like (intron binding site) motif, which corresponds to the upstream exon and suffices to form the IBS1/EBS1 (EBS: exon binding site) base-pairing interactions. Second, intron transposition was conservative with respect to sequences flanking the insertion sites. We formulated the hypothesis that transient IVS insertion at non-allelic sites followed by recombination can be viewed as a general molecular mechanism, applicable equally well to site-specific genomic instabilities involving splice-site borders of group II introns and to the formation of extra-genomic IVS plasmid DNAs (plDNAs). We used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques to detect infrequent rearrangements in mtDNA and report here on duplicative IVS transposition, twintron formation (e.g. bI1 insertion into another bI1 intron), and IVS insertions at canonical 5' exon-intron borders in S. pombe (cob1-bI1) and in S. cerevisiae (cox1-aI1). These data substantiate the concept that group II intron homing, IVS transposition and circular IVS plDNA formation involve a common RNA-mediated mechanism. Finally, the findings suggest that extra-genomic group II IVS copies are not restricted to senescence mycelia of P. anserina, but constitute natural components of group II IVS-containing genomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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