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En/Spm-like transposons in Poaceae species: Transposase sequence variability and chromosomal distribution


Belonging to Class II of transposable elements, En/Spm transposons are widespread in a variety of distantly related plant species. Here, we report on the sequence conservation of the transposase region from sequence analyses of En/Spm-like transposons from Poaceae species, namely Zingeria biebersteiniana, Zingeria trichopoda, Triticum monococcum, Triticum urartu, Hordeum spontaneum, and Aegilops speltoides. The transposase region of En/Spm-like transposons was cloned, sequenced, and compared with equivalent regions of Oryza and Arabidopsis from the gene bank database. Southern blot analysis indicated that the En/Spm transposon was present in low (Hordeum spontaneum, Triticum monococcum, Triticum urartu) through medium (Zingeria bieberstiana, Zingeria trichopoda) to relatively high (Aegilops speltoides) copy numbers in Poaceae species. A cytogenetic analysis of the chromosomal distribution of En/Spm transposons revealed the concurence of the chromosomal localization of the En/Spm clusters with mobile clusters of rDNA. An analysis of En/Spm-like transposase amino acid sequences was carried out to investigate sequence divergence between 5 genera — Triticum, Aegilops, Zingeria, Oryza and Arabidopsis. A distance matrix was generated; apparently, En/Spm-like transposase sequences shared the highest sequence homology intra-generically and, as expected, these sequences were significantly diverged from those of O. sativa and A. thaliana. A sequence comparison of En/Spm-like transposase coding regions defined that the intra-genomic complex of En/Spm-like transposons could be viewed as relatively independent, vertically transmitted, and permanently active systems inside higher plant genomes.

The sequence data from this article was deposited in the EMBL/GenBank Data Libraries under the accession nos. AY707995-AY707996-AY707997-AY707998-AY707999-AY708000-AY708001-AY708002-AY708003-AY708004-AY708005-AY708005-AY265312.



transposable elements


terminal inverted repeats




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Correspondence to Ahu Altinkut.

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Altinkut, A., Raskina, O., Nevo, E. et al. En/Spm-like transposons in Poaceae species: Transposase sequence variability and chromosomal distribution. Cell Mol Biol Lett 11, 214–229 (2006).

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Key words

  • Transposase
  • En/Spm
  • Poaceae
  • Sequence
  • Evolution
  • In situ hybridization