Both sense and antisense strands of the LTR of the Schistosoma mansoni Pao-like retrotransposon Sinbad drive luciferase expression
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Copeland, C.S., Mann, V.H. & Brindley, P.J. Mol Genet Genomics (2007) 277: 161. doi:10.1007/s00438-006-0181-1
Long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons, mobile genetic elements comprising substantial proportions of many eukaryotic genomes, are so named for the presence of LTRs, direct repeats about 250–600 bp in length flanking the open reading frames that encode the retrotransposon enzymes and structural proteins. LTRs include promotor functions as well as other roles in retrotransposition. LTR retrotransposons, including the Gypsy-like Boudicca and the Pao/BEL-like Sinbad elements, comprise a substantial proportion of the genome of the human blood fluke, Schistosoma mansoni. In order to deduce the capability of specific copies of Boudicca and Sinbad LTRs to function as promotors, these LTRs were investigated analytically and experimentally. Sequence analysis revealed the presence of TATA boxes, canonical polyadenylation signals, and direct inverted repeats within the LTRs of both the Boudicca and Sinbad retrotransposons. Inserted in the reporter plasmid pGL3, the LTR of Sinbad drove firefly luciferase activity in HeLa cells in its forward and inverted orientation. In contrast, the LTR of Boudicca did not drive luciferase activity in HeLa cells. The ability of the Sinbad LTR to transcribe in both its forward and inverted orientation represents one of few documented examples of bidirectional promotor function.