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Genetics. 1995 Nov;141(3):1061-74.

A P element containing suppressor of hairy-wing binding regions has novel properties for mutagenesis in Drosophila melanogaster.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA.


P elements are widely used as insertional mutagens to tag genes, facilitating molecular cloning and analyses. We modified a P element so that it carried two copies of the suppressor of Hairy-wing [su(Hw)] binding regions isolated from the gypsy transposable element. This transposon was mobilized, and the genetic consequences of its insertion were analyzed. Gene expression can be altered by the su(Hw) protein as a result of blocking the interaction between enhancer/silencer elements and their promoter. These effects can occur over long distances and are general. Therefore, a composite transposon (SUPor-P for suppressor-P element) combines the mutagenic efficacy of the gypsy element with the controllable transposition of P elements. We show that, compared to standard P elements, this composite transposon causes an expanded repertoire of mutations and produces alleles that are suppressed by su(Hw) mutations. The large number of heterochromatic insertions obtained is unusual compared to other insertional mutagenesis procedures, indicating that the SUPor-P transposon may be useful for studying the structural and functional properties of heterochromatin.

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