Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 115–127

A novel class of Helitron- related transposable elements in maize contain portions of multiple pseudogenes


  • Smriti Gupta
    • Department of Biological SciencesOakland University
  • Andrea Gallavotti
    • Department of BiologyUniversity of California
  • Gabrielle A. Stryker
    • Department of Biological SciencesOakland University
  • Robert J. Schmidt
    • Department of BiologyUniversity of California
    • Department of Biological SciencesOakland University

DOI: 10.1007/s11103-004-6636-z

Cite this article as:
Gupta, S., Gallavotti, A., Stryker, G.A. et al. Plant Mol Biol (2005) 57: 115. doi:10.1007/s11103-004-6636-z


We recently described a maize mutant caused by an insertion of a Helitron type transposable element (Lal, S.K., Giroux, M.J., Brendel, V., Vallejos, E. and Hannah, L.C., 2003, Plant Cell, 15: 381–391). Here we describe another Helitron insertion in the barren stalk1 gene of maize. The termini of a 6525 bp insertion in the proximal promoter region of the mutant reference allele of maize barren stalk1 gene (ba1-ref) shares striking similarity to the Helitron insertion we reported in the Shrunken-2 gene. This insertion is embedded with pseudogenes that differ from the pseudogenes discovered in the mutant Shrunken-2 insertion. Using the common terminal ends of the mutant insertions as a query, we discovered other Helitron insertions in maize BAC clones. Based on the comparison of the insertion site and PCR amplified genomic sequences, these elements inserted between AT dinucleotides. These putative non-autonomous Helitroninsertions completely lacked sequences similar to RPA (replication protein A) and DNA Helicases reported in other species. A blastn analysis indicated that both the 5′ and 3′ termini of Helitrons are repeated in the maize genome. These data provide strong evidence that Helitron type transposable elements are active and may have played an essential role in the evolution and expansion of the maize genome.


genome evolutionHelitronstransposable elements

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© Springer 2005