Identification of an active LTR retrotransposon in rice

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Abstract

Transposable elements are ubiquitous components of plant genomes. When active, these mobile elements can induce changes in the genome at both the structural and functional levels. Availability of the complete genome sequence for several model plant species provides the opportunity to study TEs in plants at an unprecedented scale. In the case of rice, annotation of the genomic sequence of the variety Nipponbare has revealed that TE-related sequences form more than 25% of its genome. However, most of the elements found are inactive, either because of structural alterations or because they are the target of various silencing pathways. In this paper, we propose a new post-genomic strategy aimed at identifying active TEs. Our approach relies on transcript profiling of TE-related sequences using a tiling microarray. We applied it to a particular class of TEs, the LTR retrotransposons. A transcript profiling assay of rice calli led to identification of a new transpositionally active family, namedLullaby.We provide a complete structural description of this element. We also show that it has recently been activein plantain rice, and discuss its phylogenetic relationships withTos17, the only other active LTR retrotransposon described so far in the species.

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