DrosophilaP transposons of the urochordata Ciona intestinalis
P transposons belong to the eukaryotic DNA transposons, which are transposed by a cut and paste mechanism using a P-element-coded transposase. They have been detected in Drosophila, and reside as single copies and stable homologous sequences in many vertebrate species. We present the P elements Pcin1, Pcin2 and Pcin3 from Ciona intestinalis, a species of the most primitive chordates, and compare them with those from Ciona savignyi. They showed typical DNA transposon structures, namely terminal inverted repeats and target site duplications. The coding region of Pcin1 consisted of 13 small exons that could be translated into a P-transposon-homologous protein. C. intestinalis and C. savignyi displayed nearly the same phenotype. However, their P elements were highly divergent and the assumed P transposase from C. intestinalis was more closely related to the transposase from Drosophila melanogaster than to the transposase of C. savignyi. The present study showed that P elements with typical features of transposable DNA elements may be found already at the base of the chordate lineage.
KeywordsP transposon Ciona Drosophila THAP9 Urochordata Evolution
The genomic C. intestinalis library was kindly provided by Weiyang Shi (Berkley). We thank Daniela Schneider for various discussions, and the anonymous reviewers for valuable suggestions to improve the manuscript.
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