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Insect Mol Biol. 1999 Feb;8(1):3-10.

Conserved features at the 5 end of Drosophila R2 retrotransposable elements: implications for transcription and translation.

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University of Rochester, Department of Biology, New York 14627-0211, USA.


R2 non-LTR retrotransposable elements insert site-specifically into the 28S ribosomal genes of insects. The sequence of the 5' end of full-length R2 elements from thirteen species of Drosophila were compared. Sequences within the 5' untranslated region (5' UTR) revealed little to suggest the presence of a promoter. Protein translation initiates within the 5' UTR and requires the bypassing of a highly conserved termination codon preceding the single R2 open reading frame. This bypassing probably involves a conserved RNA secondary structure which brings a potential initiation codon into close proximity to this termination codon. The most highly conserved sequence within the 5' UTR has properties similar to internal ribosomal entry sites. Based on these findings, we propose that R2elements are co-transcribed with the 28S gene and are translated as part of a large ribosomal subunit.

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