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Curr Biol. 1998 Jan 15;8(2):82-8.

Transposition of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans Tc3 element in the zebrafish Danio rerio.

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Department of Developmental Biology, Institute for Biology 1, University of Freiburg, Hauptstrasse 1, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.



Transposable elements of the Tc1/mariner family are found in many species of the animal kingdom. It has been suggested that the widespread distribution of this transposon family resulted from horizontal transmission among different species.


To test the ability of Tc1/mariner to cross species barriers, as well as to develop molecular genetic tools for studying zebrafish development, we determined the ability of the Tc3 transposon, a member of the Tc1/mariner family, to function in zebrafish. Tc3 transposons carrying sequences encoding the green fluorescent protein (GFP) were able to integrate in the fish genome by transposition. Integrated transposons expressed the GFP marker after germline transmission, and were capable of being mobilized upon introduction of transposase protein in trans.


Our findings support models of horizontal transmission of Tc1/mariner elements between species. The work also establishes the basis for a novel method of transposon-mediated genetic transformation and for transposon-mediated genetic screens in zebrafish and other organisms.

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