Pegasus, a small terminal inverted repeat transposable element found in the white gene of Anopheles gambiae
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Pegasus, a novel transposable element, was discovered as a length polymorphism in the white gene of Anopheles gambiae. Sequence analysis revealed that this 535 bp element was flanked by 8 bp target site duplications and 8 bp perfect terminal inverted repeats similar to those found in many members of the Tcl family. Its small size and lack of long open reading frames preclude protein coding capacity. Southern analysis and in situ hybridization to polytene chromosomes demonstrated that Pegasus occurs in approximately 30 copies in the genomes of An. gambiae and its sibling species and is homogenous in structure but polymorphic in chromosomal location. Characterization of five additional elements by sequencing revealed nucleotide identities of 95% to 99%. Of 30 Pegasus-containing phage clones examined by PCR, only one contained an element exceeding 535 bp in length, due to the insertion of another transposable element-like sequence. Thus, the majority, if not all, extant Pegasus elements may be defective copies of a complete element whose contemporary existence in An. gambiae is uncertain. No Pegasus-hybridizing sequences were detected in nine other anophelines and three culicines examined, suggesting a very limited taxonomic distribution.
Key wordsAnopheles gambiae insertion polymorphism Pegasus transposable element white gene
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