The Au family, a novel short interspersed element (SINE) from Aegilops umbellulata
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A novel plant short interspersed nuclear element (SINE) was identified in the second intron of the acetyl CoA carboxylase gene of Aegilops umbellulata which has been designated ”Au”, for the host species in which it was discovered. Au elements have a tRNA-related region, direct flanking repeats, and a short stretch of T at the 3′ end, which are features common to Au and previously characterized SINEs. Au elements are detected in the genomes of several monocots and dicots by DNA dot hybridization and are also found in the tobacco genome by database searching. Au elements are present at an especially high copy number (approximately 104 copies per haploid genome) in wheat and Ae. umbellulata. This suggests a recent amplification of Au in the Triticum and Aegilops species. In situ hybridization revealed a dispersed distribution of Au elements on wheat chromosomes. Au elements were amplified by PCR from monocot and dicot species and the phylogenetic relationships among Au elements were inferred. This phylogenetic analysis suggests amplification of Au elements in a manner consistent with the retrotransposon model for SINE dispersion. The high copy number of Au elements and their dispersed distribution in wheat are desirable characteristics for a molecular marker system in this important species.
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