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Plant Mol Biol. 1995 Nov;29(3):441-52.

Athila, a new retroelement from Arabidopsis thaliana.

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URA CNRS 1940, Université Blaise Pascal, Aubière, France.


An analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana heterochromatic regions allowed the identification of a new family of retroelements called Athila. These 10.5 kb elements, representing ca. 0.3% of the genome, present several features of retrotransposons and retroviruses. Athila elements are flanked by 1.5 kb long terminal repeats (LTR) that are themselves bounded by 5 bp perfect inverted repeats. These LTRs start and end with the retroviral consensus 5'TG...CA3' nucleotides. A putative tRNA-binding site and a polypurine tract are found adjacent to the 5' and 3' LTR respectively. The central domain is composed of two long open reading frames (ORFs) of 935 and 694 amino acids. Despite several indications of recent transposition activity, the translation of these ORFs failed to reveal significant homology with proteins associated to retrotransposition. We suggest that the Athila family could result from the transduction and dispersion of a cellular gene by a retrotransposon.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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