The degenerate DNA transposon Pat and repeat-induced point mutation (RIP) in Podospora anserina
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A degenerate DNA transposon, Pat, was identified in the genomes of various wild-type strains of the filamentous fungus Podospora anserina. In these strains, the number (approximately 20–25 copies per genome) and location of Pat sequences appear to be conserved. Two copies of Pat, one complete and one partial, were cloned and characterized. The sequence of the complete element is 1856 bp long and contains imperfect inverted terminal repeats (ITRs) of 53 bp. The target site duplication comprises the sequence TA. The amino acid sequence derived from one reading frame of Pat shows significant homology to members of the Fot1 family of transposons. However, this reading frame is interrupted by numerous stop codons. Since no transcripts of Pat were identified in different P. anserina strains grown under standard conditions and under increased stress, we conclude that none of the copies of Pat is active in the strains analyzed, under the environmental conditions investigated. Comparison of the sequences of the two cloned Pat sequences revealed 89% (589/747 nucleotides) identity. Most of the differences (82%, 129/158) can be attributed to transitions preferentially at CpA:TpG and CpT:ApG dinucleotides. The dinucleotide ratios in Pat are similar to those in a Neurospora crassa transposon which was subject to repeat-induced mutation (RIP), but differ significantly from those found in single-copy genes of P. anserina and in fungal DNA transposons not modified by this mechanism. Molecular analysis of the progeny of a cross between the wild-type strain and a transgenic strain in which a nuclear gene was duplicated by transformation yielded the first clear evidence that a RIP-like process is active in P. anserina.
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