Post-integration behavior of a Minos transposon in the malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi
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Transposable elements represent important tools to perform functional studies in insects. In Drosophila melanogaster, the remobilization properties of transposable elements have been utilized for enhancer-trapping and insertional mutagenesis experiments, which have considerably helped in the functional characterization of the fruitfly genome. In Anopheles mosquitoes, the sole vectors of human malaria, as well as in other mosquito vectors of disease, the use of transposons has also been advocated to achieve the spread of anti-parasitic genes throughout field populations. Here we report on the post-integration behavior of the Minos transposon in both the germ-line and somatic tissues of Anopheles mosquitoes. Transgenic An. stephensi lines developed using the piggyBac transposon and expressing the Minos transposase were tested for their ability to remobilize an X-linked Minos element. Germ-line remobilization events were not detected, while somatic excisions and transpositions were consistently recovered. The analysis of these events showed that Minos activity in Anopheles cells is characterized by unconventional functionality of the transposon. In the two cases analyzed, re-integration of the transposon occurred onto the same X chromosome, suggesting a tendency for local hopping of Minos in the mosquito genome. This is the first report of the post-integration behavior of a transposable element in a human malaria vector.
KeywordsRemobilization Insertional mutagenesis Minos Anopheles Gene function
We thank Ann Cronin for help with the maintenance of the transgenic lines. We are grateful to Morten Andreasen, Lin Du, and Doerte Schulte for initial efforts on this work, and to Bruno Arcà and David O’Brochta for helpful suggestions. FC was supported by the Wellcome Trust and a Cenci Bolognetti Foundation/Institute Pasteur fellowship, CS was supported by the Wellcome Trust and Universities UK, with The Overseas Research Students Award Scheme (ORS award).
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