, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 297-306
Date: 08 Jan 2011

Integration specificity of LTR-retrotransposons and retroviruses in the Drosophila melanogaster genome

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Abstract

Integration of DNA copies in a host genome is a necessary stage in the life cycle of retroviruses and LTR-retrotransposons. There is still no clear understanding of integration specificity of retroelements into a target site. The selection of the target DNA is believed to potentially affect a number of factors such as transcriptional status, association with histones and other DNA-binding proteins, and DNA bending. The authors performed a comprehensive computer analysis of the integration specificity of Drosophila melanogaster LTR-retrotransposons and retroviruses including an analysis of the nucleotide composition of targets, terminal sequences of LTRs, and integrase sequences. A classification of LTR-retrotransposons based on the integration specificity was developed. All the LTR-retrotransposons of the gypsy group with three open frames (errantiviruses) and their derivatives with two open frames demonstrate strict specificity to a target DNA selection. Such specificity correlates with the structural features of the target DNA: bendability, A-philicity, or protein-induced deformability. The remaining LTR-retrotransposons (copia and BEL groups, blastopia and 412 subgroups of the gypsy group) do not show specificity of integration. Chromodomain is present in the integrase structures of blastopia and 412 subgroup LTR-retrotransposons and may facilitate the process of non-specific integration.