A search for noncanonical variants of the gypsy retrotransposon (MDG4) in the genome of the Drosophila melanogaster strain G32 led to the cloning of four copies of the poorly studied 7411-bp gtwin element. Sequence analysis showed that gtwin belongs to a family of endogeneous retroviruses, which are widespread in the Drosophila genome and have recently been termed insect erantiviruses. The gtwin retrotransposon is evolutionarily closest to MDG4, as evident from a good alignment of their nucleotide sequences including ORF2 (the pol gene) and ORF3 (the env gene), as well as the amino acid sequences of their protein products. These regions showed more than 75% homology. The distribution of gtwin was studied in several strains of the genus Drosophila. While strain G32 contained more than 20 copies of the element, ten other D. melanogaster strains carried gtwin in two to six copies per genome. The gtwin element was not detected in D. Hydei or D. Virilis. Comparison of the cloned gtwin sequences with the gtwin sequence available from the D. melanogaster genome database showed that the two variants of the mobile element differ by the presence or absence of a stop codon in the central region of ORF3. Its absence from the gtwin copies cloned from the strain G32 may indicate an association between the functional state of ORF3 and amplification of the element.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 24, 2005
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