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Genetics. 1993 Jul;134(3):859-68.

The transposable element mariner mediates germline transformation in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.


A vector for germline transformation in Drosophila melanogaster was constructed using the transposable element mariner. The vector, denoted pMlwB, contains a mariner element disrupted by an insertion containing the wild-type white gene from D. melanogaster, the beta-galactosidase gene from Escherichia coli and sequences that enable plasmid replication and selection in E. coli. The white gene is controlled by the promoter of the D. melanogaster gene for heat-shock protein 70, and the beta-galactosidase gene is flanked upstream by the promoter of the transposable element P as well as that of mariner. The MlwB element was introduced into the germline of D. melanogaster by co-injection into embryos with an active mariner element, Mos1, which codes for a functional transposase and serves as a helper. Two independent germline insertions were isolated and characterized. The results show that the MlwB element inserted into the genome in a mariner-dependent manner with the termini of the inverted repeats inserted at a TA dinucleotide. Both insertions exhibit an unexpected degree of germline and somatic stability, even in the presence of an active mariner element in the genetic background. These results demonstrate that the mariner transposable element, which is small (1286 bp) and relatively homogeneous in size among different copies, is nevertheless capable of promoting the insertion of the large (13.2 kb) MlwB element. Because of the widespread phylogenetic distribution of mariner among insects, these results suggest that mariner might provide a wide host-range transformation vector for insects.

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