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Continuous exchange of sequence information between dispersed Tc1 transposons in the Caenorhabditis elegans genome.

The Genetics Society of America
Publication Date
  • Research Article


In a genome-wide analysis of the active transposons in Caenorhabditis elegans we determined the localization and sequence of all copies of each of the six active transposon families. Most copies of the most active transposons, Tc1 and Tc3, are intact but individually have a unique sequence, because of unique patterns of single-nucleotide polymorphisms. The sequence of each of the 32 Tc1 elements is invariant in the C. elegans strain N2, which has no germline transposition. However, at the same 32 Tc1 loci in strains with germline transposition, Tc1 elements can acquire the sequence of Tc1 elements elsewhere in the N2 genome or a chimeric sequence derived from two dispersed Tc1 elements. We hypothesize that during double-strand-break repair after Tc1 excision, the template for repair can switch from the Tc1 element on the sister chromatid or homologous chromosome to a Tc1 copy elsewhere in the genome. Thus, the population of active transposable elements in C. elegans is highly dynamic because of a continuous exchange of sequence information between individual copies, potentially allowing a higher evolution rate than that found in endogenous genes.

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