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Pearl, a Novel Family of Putative Transposable Elements in Bivalve Mollusks

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While genome sequencing projects have discovered numerous types of transposable elements in diverse eukaryotes, there are many taxa of ecological and evolutionary significance that have received little attention, such as the molluscan class Bivalvia. Examination of a 0.7-MB genomic sequence database from the cupped oyster Crassostrea virginica revealed the presence of a common interspersed element, CvA. CvA possesses subterminal inverted repeats, a tandemly repeated core element, a tetranucleotide microsatellite region, and the ability to form stable secondary structures. Three other less abundant repetitive elements with a similar structure but little sequence similarity were also found in C. virginica. Ana-1, a repetitive element with similar features, was discovered in the blood ark Anadara trapezia by probing a genomic library with a dimeric repeat element contained in intron 2 of a minor globin gene in that species. All of these elements are flanked by the dinucleotide AA, a putative target-site duplication. They exhibit structural similarity to the sea urchin Tsp family and Drosophila SGM insertion sequences; in addition, they possess regions of sequence similarity to satellite DNA from several bivalve species. We suggest that the Crassostrea repetitive elements and Ana-1 are members of a new MITE-like family of nonautonomous transposable elements, named pearl. Pearl is the first putative nonautonomous DNA transposon to be identified in the phylum Mollusca.

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Gaffney, P., Pierce, J., Mackinley, A. et al. Pearl, a Novel Family of Putative Transposable Elements in Bivalve Mollusks . J Mol Evol 56, 308–316 (2003).

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